WASHINGTON, Aug. 20 (UPI) -- A former Tea Party leader in the U.S. Senate said Republicans unwilling to shut down the government rather than fund healthcare reform "need to be replaced."
Jim DeMint, the former Republican senator from South Carolina who resigned his seat to take over the conservative Heritage Center think tank, told a group in Arkansas he thinks too many GOP lawmakers are worried about the politics of a potential government shutdown -- and not the implications for the country if Congress goes along with implementing Obamacare, The Hill said Tuesday.
"I think he knows that Republicans are afraid, and if they are, they need to be replaced," DeMint told NPR in an interview after the Heritage Center event.
Though many Tea Party-backed Republicans in both the House and Senate are threatening legislation that would refuse to fund the government if it includes funds for the Affordable Care Act, many in Republican leadership and the establishment wing of the party see it as a suicide mission.
DeMint dismissed such notions. Other conservative groups, including the Senate Conservative Fund, a political action committee DeMint founded while he was a senator but that he no longer runs is targeting 100 Republicans who have refused to sign on to the government shut down strategy.
"The risk of that is so much less than the risk to our country if we implement ObamaCare, and so I'm not as interested in the political futures of folks who think they might lose a showdown with the president," DeMint said.