U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, speaks to local residents during a fundraising picnic for the Iowa Republican Party, Friday, July 19, 2013, in Des Moines, Iowa. Credit: AP
NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- A grassroots effort against President Barack Obama's health care overhaul could persuade skittish Republicans to deny money for the law and overcome arguments that any resulting shutdown of the government would be the GOP's fault, Sen. Ted Cruz said Friday.
"We have to stand up and win the argument," the Texas Republican said to spirited applause on the opening day of the annual RedState Gathering, a meeting of conservatives highly critical of many established Republican leaders as well as Democrats.
Cruz, a tea party-backed first-term lawmaker, has long suggested that one way of taking money from the law would be to hold up a continuing funding resolution to keep government agencies running after Sept. 30. Several of his Republican colleagues have called such a move counterproductive and detrimental to the party and the nation.
Cruz said the effort should start in the House with passage of a resolution that would fund government with the exception of the health care law.
"We don't have the votes right now. In fact, to be honest, we're not close," Cruz said. But, he noted, he won a come-from-behind victory in Texas' Republican Senate primary last year with strong grassroots support, beginning with conservative bloggers.
On Friday, the GOP-controlled House passed for the 40th time a measure targeting the law that Republicans deride as "Obamacare." The bill preventing the Internal Revenue Service from implementing any part of the health care law passed on a near party-line vote of 232-185. But the legislation is certain to be ignored in the Democratic-controlled Senate.
Liberal groups announced Friday a campaign in Louisiana and nine other states to counter criticism of the health care law. They're also encouraging those who need insurance to enroll in the state exchanges established under the law when the enrollment period opens Oct. 1.