DENVER — Congressman Mike Coffman confirmed to FOX31 Denver that he will vote in favor of the Senate bill to end the government shutdown and raise the nation’s debt ceiling when the legislation comes to the House floor Wednesday night.
Coffman, one of the most vulnerable members of Congress, is the first Colorado Republican to signal their support for the deal.
“This is merely a bridge,” Coffman told FOX31 Denver Wednesday afternoon. “It gives breathing room to negotiate, which has been a failure in this process to this point.”
Coffman stood with his House Republican colleagues when the shutdown began and supported the strategy of refusing to allow a vote on a clean resolution to fund the government unless Democrats allowed them to defund or delay the implementation of President Obama’s health care reform law.
Touting his legislation to ensure that members of the military didn’t see a disruption in pay during the showdown, Coffman also told FOX31 in a Sept. 30 interview that he was “doing what’s right” even if it was politically risky.
A week later, he reversed course and wrote that it was time to pass a clean continuing resolution to fund the government; he also called the GOP’s strategy to hold out for concessions around Obamacare “nothing more than an exercise in national fundraising” for the lawmakers leading that charge.
On Wednesday, Coffman said he reversed course when it was clear that Democrats weren’t going to negotiate.
“I thought all along it was a pretty weak hand,” he said. “When I saw that there wasn’t going to be negotiation, I begun working with bipartisan groups to try and break this gridlock.”
Over the 16 days of the shutdown, Republicans have seen their approval ratings plummet below 30 percent, leaving Democrats increasingly optimistic about their chances of challenging the GOP’s House majority in 2014.
If Democrats have any prayer of gaining the 17 seats needed to re-take a majority, they absolutely have to knock off Coffman, who represents one of the most competitive congressional districts in the country.
Hence, the steady barrage of press releases from Democratic groups bashing Coffman for his shifting positions and blaming him and his fellow Republicans for the shutdown.
“Coffman can’t play both ends of the field,” said Colorado Democratic Party Chairman Rick Palacio. “While he talked about keeping the government open, he voted with Texas Sen. Ted Cruz to keep it closed. It was Coffman’s inability to stand up to the Tea Party from the outset that led us to this spot.”