The threat suggested by a conservative contingent of senators — including Utah's Mike Lee, Texas' Ted Cruz, and Florida's Marco Rubio — is perhaps the quintessence of right-wing anti-government sentiment. In order to block Obamacare, a policy blasted as being a manifestation of socialism, the senators propose government be halted entirely. It's a reminder that the always nebulous Tea Party, the frayed remnants of which seem entirely on-board with the proposal, was never a thing, but an ideology. And while there may be fewer teabag-hatted red-white-and-blue protests, the ideological eruption has hardly waned at all.
Last month, David Graham at The Atlantic documented the various times — 18 in total — that headlines declared the movement dead. There's no question that the activism has tapered; in contrast to 2010 and 2011, we now see far fewer public demonstrations. Interest in "Tea Party rally" on Google peaked in early 2010, gradually tapering off but for a few spikes — the largest recent one coming at the tail end of the revelations of IRS targeting of Tea Party groups.
So how to explain Lee's new plan? In July, Lee wrote a letter to Senate Republican leadership demanding that they back the inclusion of a measure to defund the Affordable Care Act in a government funding bill that needs to be passed before the end of September. If the measure isn't included, Lee encourages his colleagues to flatly oppose the funding resolution. Conservative activist group FreedomWorks is tracking support for the effort; 13 senators have signed Lee's letter and 29 have cosponsored Cruz's amendment to defund Obamacare.