WASHINGTON — Although tea party influence has waned in recent negotiations to prevent a government shutdown, GOP leaders still want the support of most of the House freshmen Republicans that the movement supported.
Those include the vote of U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers of Dunn, an activist-turned-politician who won her seat in part on a platform of cutting government spending.
In an interview Monday, Ellmers called a shutdown "a last resort."
"Our goal as Republicans - we're united on this," Ellmers said. "We do not want to see a government shutdown, and we're doing everything to prevent it."
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Ellmers said she'd like to see a continuing resolution that cuts $51 billion - in addition to the $10 billion that already has been cut in short-term stopgap measures.
Ellmers blamed Senate Democratic leaders for pushing toward a government shutdown.
The Triangle's Democratic congressional representatives, U.S. Reps. David Price of Chapel Hill and Brad Miller of Raleigh, expressed dismay at cuts that they feared would hurt the economic recovery.
Miller said he already has cut programs he cares about, including a historic preservation program that he authored and was supported by then-First Lady Laura Bush. Miller said Monday that he has to see details of the next compromise before knowing how he'll vote.
"I think a government shutdown would be very bad for the American people and the economy, but so would the cuts," Miller said.
He had been to a meeting earlier in the day with the Big Brothers Big Sisters organization, which Miller said is among those targeted for cuts.
"I need to see what they're talking about cutting," Miller said. "The cuts aren't in the abstract; they're real and affect real people."
Price said House Speaker John Boehner, whom he said has listened too closely to "tea party types," holds the key to whether the government would stay open. "It's their decision as to whether we're going to get a budget," Price said.
But he also doesn't want to see cuts in education, community colleges, research or infrastructure because those would damage the recovery, he said.
"I would look very skeptically at cuts that reduce our economic capacity," Price said.
U.S. Rep. Sue Myrick, a Charlotte Republican, said her ideal was the continuing resolution passed weeks ago that would have cut more than $60 billion. It didn't have a chance in the Democratic-controlled Senate.
"The main thing is the 2012 budget," Myrick said. "That's my big concern. That's where the rubber meets the road."