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Washington • Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman predicted that if the government shuts down Tuesday it would be short and painful for his fellow Republicans.
"If there is a going to be a shutdown, it's going to be a 24-hour shutdown," he said Sunday during an appearance on "Meet the Press." "Republicans know it is a loser for them."
Huntsman urged the GOP to accept that the Affordable Care Act is here to stay and that it's time to fix the parts of the law that are problematic. He criticized a strategy that tries to leverage a potential shutdown to undercut the health reform law. He went so far as to suggest Republican senators who rejected that strategy would be considered heroes, naming Sens. Tom Coburn and Bob Corker.
In essence, Huntsman was slamming the strategy championed by Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, who once served as Huntsman's general counsel.
Lee led a failed attempt to use the budget battle to strip funding from the law commonly called Obamacare. During his own appearance on the political talk show "Fox News Sunday," Lee said he now supports the House-passed plan to tie a budget bill to a one-year delay of the Affordable Care Act, a law that congressional Republicans universally oppose.
"Republicans are doing everything we can to protect America from a shutdown and protect America from Obamacare," said Lee, who tried to pin any potential shutdown on Democrats for rejecting the House-passed legislation.
On Monday, the Senate is expected to sidestep the latest House offer, leaving just hours for Congress to strike a compromise before non-essential government functions start shutting down. If that happens, hundreds of thousands of federal employees would be furloughed, national parks would be closed and federally backed home loans would be stalled.
The Senate is expected to pass a bill that would allow the military to get paid during a shutdown, a move the House adopted unanimously late Saturday.