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Originally published Monday, October 7, 2013 at 5:58 AM

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No. 2 House Democrat: GOP lawmakers fear tea party

The No. 2 House Democrat says a key factor extending the government shutdown is fear among moderate Republicans about a tea party challenge.

The Associated Press

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WASHINGTON —

The No. 2 House Democrat says a key factor extending the government shutdown is fear among moderate Republicans about a tea party challenge.

Maryland's Rep. Steny Hoyer says he believes 140 to 160 of the 232 House Republicans "think what's being done right now is irrational." Hoyer tells MSNBC Monday these lawmakers are "looking over their shoulders" at potential tea party challenges.

Hoyer said GOP friends have told him privately that they don't understand the uncompromising position taken by the more conservative members of their caucus, lawmakers who have fallen into line with Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and others.

Hoyer said the partial government shutdown now in effect is different from past closures "because this is a tactic. This is not a result of the inability to get an agreement."

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