Rep. Phil Gingrey of Georgia said it felt as if Republicans were retreating, and Rep. Scott Rigell of Virginia said there was not unanimity when the rank and file met to discuss a next move.
For the first time since the showdown began more than a week ago, there was also public dissent from the Republican strategy that has been carried out at the insistence of tea party-aligned lawmakers working in tandem with GOP Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas.
Rep. Charles Dent, R-Pa., said he was willing to vote for stand-alone legislation that would keep the government running and contained no health care-related provisions. "I would be supportive of it, and I believe the votes are there in the House to pass it at that point," the fifth-term congressman said.
Dent added he has been urging the Republican leadership to allow a vote along those lines.
A second Republican, Rep. Doug Lamborn of Colorado, said, "We haven't given up on Obamacare ... but for this week we may have to give up. We tried everything and Harry Reid won't budge," he said of the Senate majority leader.
Other Republicans sought to blame Democrats for any shutdown, but Dent conceded that Republicans would bear the blame, whether or not they deserved it.
U.S. troops were shielded from any damage to their wallets when the Senate approved legislation assuring the military would be paid in the in the event of a shutdown. The House passed the bill early Sunday morning.
That had no impact on those who labor at other agencies.
"I know some other employees, if you don't have money saved, it's going to be difficult," said Thelma Manley, who has spent seven years as a staff assistant with the Internal Revenue Service during a 30-year career in government.
As for herself, she said, "I'm a Christian, I trust in God wholeheartedly and my needs will be met." She added, "I do have savings, so I can go to the reserve, so to speak."
The last time the government shutdown, in 1996, Republicans suffered significant political damage, and then-President Bill Clinton's political fortunes were revived in the process.
Now, as then, Republicans control the House, and senior lawmakers insist even a shutdown isn't likely to threaten their majority in the 2014 elections. "We may even gain seats," Oregon Rep. Greg Walden, who chairs the party campaign committee, said recently.
For all the controversy about other matters, the legislation in question is a spending bill — and there was little if any disagreement about the spending-related issues.
The House and Senate have agreed to fix spending for a wide swath of federal programs at an annual level of $986 billion for the budget year that begins Oct. 1, the same as for the 12 months just ending.
Without separate legislation to make further reductions, across-the-board cuts would automatically take effect early next year that would reduce the level to $967 billion.
Associated Press writers Alan Fram, Andrew Taylor, Laurie Kellman, Pauline Jelinek; Henry Jackson, Donna Cassata and Stacy A. Anderson in Washington and Marc Levy in Harrisburg, Pa., contributed to this report.
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