House Aide to Cruz Staffer: ‘You’re Not Dealing in Reality’

by Jonathan Strong & Andrew Stiles

Republicans on Capitol Hill are abuzz about a flare-up that occurred in the Republican Study Committee’s weekly staff meeting.

Neil Bradley, a top aide to Majority Leader Eric Cantor, made a rare appearance at the meeting to discuss CR strategy. During that discussion, Bradley said that in the event of a government shutdown, U.S. soldiers would not receive their paychecks.

Max Pappas, an aide to Texas senator Ted Cruz who was on hand, rose to argue that in the event the House and President Obama were at odds when government funding expired, Republicans could pass a bill to fund the troops and other core priorities.

At that point, a woman rose, identifying herself as a staffer to a Texas Republican. Pappas, she said, was “not dealing in reality” and making everyone else’s life difficult. The staffer, whom two GOP sources identified as working for Representative John Culberson of Texas, went on to decry Cruz for holding events in Culberson’s district and telling his constituents that defunding Obamacare would be “easy.”

A significant number in the room of about one hundred people applauded the woman’s remarks, but several GOP aides said it was not a standing ovation or an overwhelmingly positive response.

The point that Pappas was trying to make is that even in the event that a Obamacare fight pushes the government over the edge of shutdown, there’s no reason, short of a Democratic refusal to help, that the House could not help enact a measure avoiding a halt in troops’ paychecks and other dramatic effects of a shutdown. And if the House did pass such an emergency bill, it’s not clear whom the public would blame if Obama refused to sign it.

On the other hand, it’s fair to say the staffer’s anger at Cruz carries a fairly broad base among House Republicans, many of whom view his Obamacare push as self-destructive to the party.

In a written statement provided by his office, Culberson said “I strongly support any and all efforts to defund, repeal, and replace Obamacare.”

Bradley’s presence at the meeting is a fairly significant deal in the world of GOP staffers, but he did not make any big news as far as what CR strategy House leadership will pursue, sources say.