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Saturday, December 3, 2016

In an effort to build support for Senator Mike Lee’s (R-UT) Hail Mary effort to defund the Affordable Care Act, two Tea Party groups are launching a new ad campaign accusing Republican senators of being too chicken to shut down the government.

Tea Party Patriots and For America are releasing a series of online ads targeting six Republicans who have publicly doubted the plan to shut down the government unless Democrats agree to gut Obamacare: Senators Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Richard Burr (R-NC), Tom Coburn (R-OK), John Cornyn (R-TX), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and Mark Kirk (R-IL). The ads will follow the basic structure of For America’s recent “Chicken” ad, which slammed Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) insufficiently zealous opposition to Obamacare, and warned “You fund it, you own it!”

According to The Washington Post, a second wave of ads will target six senators who have not yet declared a position on the shutdown plan: Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Thad Cochran (R-MS), Pat Roberts (R-KS), Tim Scott (R-SC), Jeff Sessions (R-AL), and Pat Toomey (R-PA.)

In addition to the ad campaign, Tea Party Patriots and For America leaders are beginning a five-day, six-state tour lobbying the senators to pass a law that would allow Americans to exempt themselves from Obamacare.

Still, as the right increases pressure on senators to support the government shutdown plan, it seems to be rapidly losing momentum in Congress. Just 13 of the 46 Senate Republicans have signed Senator Lee’s letter advocating the plan, and none have signed since the start of August. Senator McConnell, whose support is essential due to his role as minority leader, has refused to endorse the effort. And now even one of Lee’s most outspoken supporters is doubting the plan.

During a Sunday morning appearance on Fox News, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) — who is both a signatory to Lee’s letter, and one of McConnell’s key allies on the right — hedged on his support for a government shutdown.

“I don’t think shutting down the government is a good idea,” Paul said. He went on to acknowledge that “I do think that we were elected, conservatives were elected, to try to stop this overreach, this government takeover of healthcare,” but shifted the responsibility to the House of Representatives.

“We don’t control all of the government, but Republicans control the House of Representatives, they should stand up, use that power to at the very least make that law less bad, delay it, do something we can to protect the American public from the law,” Paul said. He did not elaborate on how the House — which has already voted to repeal or defund the law 40 times — could effectively destroy Obamacare with its 41st effort.

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