John McCain says it's time for GOP to quit

"Republicans have to understand we have lost this battle"

Published October 16, 2013 12:55PM (EDT)

John McCain                           (Reuters/Joshua Lott)
John McCain (Reuters/Joshua Lott)

With House Republicans in disarray and the debt ceiling deadline fast-approaching, Arizona Senator John McCain is urging his fellow Republicans to give up the fight and vote for a bill to reopen the government and lift the debt ceiling.

"Republicans have to understand we have lost this battle," McCain told the New York Times, "as I predicted weeks ago, that we would not be able to win because we were demanding something that was not achievable."

Since the dual shutdown/debt ceiling crises began, McCain has indeed been a lonely voice of dissent within his party, urging the GOP to forego its plan of high-stakes brinksmanship in pursuit of defunding or delaying Obamacare. While McCain has not been alone, he has been the most high-profile Republican skeptic of the GOP's recent political tactics.

More from the New York Times:

A day that was supposed to bring Washington to the edge of resolving the fiscal showdown instead seemed to bring chaos and retrenching. And a bitter fight that had begun over stripping money from the president’s signature health care law had essentially descended in the House into one over whether lawmakers and their staff members would pay the full cost of their health insurance premiums, unlike most workers at American companies, and how to restrict the administration from using flexibility to extend the debt limit beyond a fixed deadline.

Even so, the House speaker, John A. Boehner, Republican of Ohio, and his leadership team failed in repeated, daylong attempts to bring their troops behind any bill that would reopen the government and extend the Treasury’s debt limit on terms significantly reduced from their original push against funding for the health care law. The House’s hard-core conservatives and some more pragmatic Republicans were nearing open revolt, and the leadership was forced twice to back away from proposals it had floated, the second time sending lawmakers home for the night to await a decision on how to proceed Wednesday.

“We’re trying to find a way through it,” said Representative Greg Walden of Oregon, the chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, emerging from Mr. Boehner’s office to announce that no votes would be held Tuesday night.

By Elias Isquith

Elias Isquith is a former Salon staff writer.

MORE FROM Elias Isquith

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Debt Ceiling Gop Civil War Government Shutdown John Mccain Obamacare The New York Times