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October 5, 2013

House hard-liners stand united in budget showdown

WASHINGTON —

Freshman Rep. Markwayne Mullin of Oklahoma is one of the hard-line House conservatives demanding concessions from President Barack Obama on his health care law in exchange for ending the federal government shutdown.
“We have got to get to the point where we’re working like a functional government, not like a dictatorship,” said Mullin, a 36-year-old rancher and plumbing business owner who insists that the president and Senate Democrats must negotiate on an emergency spending bill to re-open the government.
In Mullin’s expansive district, which stretches along eastern Oklahoma from Kansas to Texas, many constituents stand firmly behind the young Republican congressman even as they begin to feel the impact of the first government shutdown in 17 years. 
They’re unbending in their opposition to the 3-year-old health care law and endorse any effort to unravel it.
“Wait it out,” Micah Thompson, a 32-year-old seminarian student and Army reservist from Canadian, Okla., advised Mullin. “It’s chicken. Someone’s got to blink first.”
For Thompson, the shutdown isn’t just a political fight in Washington. His brother, an employee at the McAlester Army Ammunition Plant, has been furloughed. This weekend, Thompson himself faces cancellation of his Army drills and the loss of pay.
Thompson knows what he doesn’t like about the health care law. “I think it’s wrong to make someone buy something they don’t want or don’t need,” he said, referring to the requirement that millions of Americans get coverage or face a penalty.
So Mullin stands firm, and he is not alone. Rebellious Republicans prevailed in pressuring Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, to link undoing the health care law to the temporary spending bill and have refused to relent, now four days into a government shutdown with no end in sight.

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