WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Eleven first-term Republicans in the House of Representatives on Wednesday appealed to party colleagues to back away from a threatened government closure on Oct. 1, citing concerns about the political and economic costs of such an action.
The 11 freshmen, who are not aligned with the party’s far-right Tea Party faction pushing for a shutdown, wrote an open letter to other Republicans urging support for a budget patch that would avert a shutdown, at least for a few weeks.
“We are writing today to express our strong support for a funding resolution that will avoid another unnecessary and harmful government shutdown,” said Ryan Costello, Elise Stefanik, Mimi Walters and eight other signers of the letter.
Congress is close to the brink of another possible shutdown because conservative House Republicans have vowed not to support any federal spending plan that provides continued taxpayer support for Planned Parenthood, the women’s healthcare group.
Congressional Democrats and President Barack Obama support the group, which has been under fire for weeks over allegations that it improperly sells aborted fetal tissue.
The group has said it has done nothing wrong and has blasted a series of accusatory videos, secretly filmed and posted online by an anti-abortion group, as unfair and deceptive.
The federal fiscal year will end in one week and Congress must act to keep agencies funded and operating.
The first-term lawmakers said they would support a short-term funding bill that would buy time for more negotiation.
The letter writers said the costs of a 17-day shutdown in 2013 were “unacceptable,” such as a $24 billion hit to the U.S. economy and the loss of 100,000 private sector jobs. “The shutdown ... actually cost more taxpayer money to close the federal government than to keep it open,” the lawmakers wrote.
The letter made no mention of Planned Parenthood.
The most conservative three-dozen or so House members have said they would oppose any measure allowing the healthcare group to keep getting $500 million a year in federal funds.
The Senate on Thursday plans to vote on a Republican bill that would extend present government funding through Dec. 11, but attempt to cut off a portion of Planned Parenthood’s funds.
Democrats were expected to block this, forcing Republicans to turn to a “clean” spending bill simply extending all funding.
A spokesperson for Republican House Speaker John Boehner declined to comment on the letter.
Reporting by David Lawder; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Richard Chang