Video of the exchange was posted online by a Tea Party group; Pittenger eventually voted for the measure.
Ellmers was part of the 2010 class and a darling of the Tea Party. But after getting into office, she sought to shed those ties, working closely with House leadership and becoming chairwoman of the Republican Women’s Policy Committee. She is often called on as a spokeswoman for the Republican party.
Ellmers has one of the most conservative voting records in the House, but when she said voting for a government shutdown would be trading one economic disaster for another, the D.C.-based conservative group Heritage Action announced it would spend $550,000 on online ads against her and other GOP opponents of the shutdown.
She has since picked up a challenger in the May Republican primary election. Cary stock trader Frank Roche, her opponent, has called her a “faux conservative.”
On Tuesday, House leadership outlined a plan that would reopen the government and give the Treasury authority to borrow until early next year. It would also suspend a tax on medical devices and eliminate the federal contributions to lawmakers’ health insurance plans.
Ellmers walked out of the meeting disappointed because she felt the House leadership had bent too much to the Senate’s will. She said she was unsure whether she could support the House plan as it was being discussed Tuesday morning by leaders.
“I’m not satisfied. I don’t think we’re asking enough. I think because we’re up against the debt ceiling and the default that we’re trying to put forward something that we believe the Senate will agree to, but I believe it’s compromising on my principles.”
Pittenger has flipped back and forth on the issue. Despite voting for the plan to defund Obamacare by tying it to the government funding, he said Monday night that he never wanted to defund the government.
He cited the YouTube video as evidence of his original position. He said the real problem is spending. He opposed raising the debt ceiling, but said he could only accept such a measure if it accompanied equivalent spending cuts.
Pittenger said he knew that Democratic leaders in the Senate and the White House would never accept a measure for defunding Obamacare. Nonetheless, he blamed them for failing to come to the table when the House tried to negotiate reopening other parts of the government except Obamacare.
“It’s disappointing,” he said. “I would think that reasonable, thoughtful minds would have prevailed by now.”