GOP senators vow no more shutdowns

But Sen. Ted Cruz insists he remains dedicated to rolling back health care law

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., heads for the Senate floor in Washington, Oct. 16, 2013.
Andrew Burton/Getty Images

With the U.S. fiscal crisis over — for now — Republican lawmakers say they won't push the country to the edge again. The pledge comes amid polls suggesting the budget impasse, the partial government shutdown and the standoff over the debt ceiling have negatively affected Americans' opinion of the GOP. The plummeting popularity numbers have, in turn, revealed deep new fault lines within the party.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told The Hill that he would not allow the GOP's desire to do away with the Affordable Care Act to result in another shutdown.

"One of my favorite old Kentucky sayings is there's no education in the second kick of a mule," McConnell said. "The first kick of a mule was when we shut the government down in the mid-1990s and the second kick was over the last 16 days." 

"There will not be a government shutdown," he added.

McConnell and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., worked to ink the deal to fund the federal government through Jan. 15, 2014, and raise the borrowing limit until Feb. 7.

The Senate passed the bill Wednesday, night and House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, who had been wrestling with a restive Republican caucus during the shutdown, allowed it to come to a vote just hours before the country was to hit its borrowing limit.

WATCH: Could the post-shutdown GOP change its tactics?

Economists and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said during the shutdown that missing the deadline would have catastrophic effects on the U.S. economy. Some tea party representatives disagreed with their predictions.

McConnell scolded the tea party for backing a shutdown to advance political goals. 

"I think we have fully now acquainted our new members with what a losing strategy that is," he said.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., echoed McConnell's view Thursday.

"The real losers were the American people," McCain told CNN. 

"We're not going to through the shutdown again because people have been too traumatized by it. There's too much damage. We tried this back in 1995, had the same the result, and we waited a long time before we tried this again. So I don't think there's that danger again, and that's what most people are worried about."

In 1995 and 1996, two government shutdowns lead by House Republicans under then–House Speaker Newt Gingrich of Georgia did not result in a political win for his party. Democratic President Bill Clinton won a second term in November of 1996, while the GOP lost eight seats in the House.

Cruz won't budge

Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who was first elected to the Senate in November 2012, doesn't see eye to eye with his senior colleagues.

Speaking to ABC News on Thursday, he refused to say whether "future tactical decisions" that could lead to another shutdown of the federal government were off the table.

"I would do anything, and I will continue to do anything I can to stop this train wreck that is Obamacare," Cruz said.

"What we saw in the deal last night is that the U.S. Senate is not concerned about all of the people out of a job" or facing other economic hardships as a result, he said, referring to the ACA.

He has reportedly said the budget showdowns of the 1990s ultimately benefited his party's budget goals.

Divisions between tea party and mainstream Republicans have deepened as Cruz has become a star among the anti-tax wing of the GOP.

"Sen. Ted Cruz's popularity has soared among tea party Republicans while declining among non-tea-party Republicans. Since July, as Cruz's visibility has increased, his favorable rating among tea party Republicans has risen by 27 points — from 47 percent to 74 percent," a Pew poll conducted during the shutdown found.

But this doesn't necessarily bode well for the tea party. The Pew study found more and more Americans have an unfavorable view of the tea party, as happened during a similar 2011 impasse.

Across all political groups, "very negative views" of the tea party rose from 10 percent in February 2010 to 30 percent in October 2013.

President Barack Obama decried the failure to find consensus and said that edging up against breaching the country's borrowing limit hurt the economy.

"We know that just the threat of default, of America not paying all the bills that we owe on time, increased our borrowing costs, which adds to our deficit,” Obama said Thursday.

"And, of course, we know that the American people's frustration with what goes on in this town has never been higher."

Another Pew study supports Obama's view, finding a record-high percentage of people polled, 38 percent, want their representative ousted in the next midterm election.

Voters will get their chance in November of next year.  

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