WASHINGTON —It was supposed to be a principled assault on the health care reform law, but the fight paralyzing Capitol Hill has played out as badly as predicted for Republicans.
The opening roar turned into a confusing and frantic approach amid a struggle for control among hard-line conservatives and the GOP's more moderate establishment.
No matter how it ends — House leaders canceled a vote Tuesday evening amid growing conservative revolt — the Republican Party likely will have little to show for the shutdown effort except bleak poll numbers that some fear could carry into the 2014 elections.
"This was all very foreseeable. Everybody said we will get blamed and we did. Everybody said we will never get Obama to repeal Obamacare and he won't," said Florida Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Okeechobee, frustrated at a missed opportunity to address long-term budget issues.
"I'm a proud conservative Republican," Rooney said. "I believe we are spending too much money. I believe that the debt is getting compounded and it's going to skyrocket more and more if we don't do something about it. This was our opportunity, in a divided government, to get something that maybe isn't 100 percent of what we like. But instead we went for 100 percent of what we wanted. It didn't work, shockingly. How could you not be concerned? We're in the toilet."
A Washington Post/ABC News poll released Monday shows 74 percent of Americans disapprove of the way Republicans are handling the budget impasse, up 11 points from when the standoff began Oct. 1.
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