Cruz Ted Getty Image August 2013
U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas. Getty Images

Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, one of the strongest proponents of defunding the new health care law, is refusing to say whether colleagues who are against that position should be replaced.

Last week, Jim DeMint, a former senator turned head of the conservative think tank Heritage Foundation, told NPR that Republicans who don’t support defunding Obamacare should not be re-elected to office.

“I think [Obama] knows that Republicans are afraid,” he said, “and if they are, they need to be replaced.”

When asked on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday whether he supported this notion, Cruz avoided the issue and said this is the “single best time” to stop the law, which is formally known as the Affordable Care Act.

“There’s bipartisan agreement that it’s not working,” Cruz said. “The wheels are coming off. And because defunding it, if it doesn't happen now, it’s likely never to happen.”

Defunding Obamacare is the latest issue that has divided Republicans. There are some, like Cruz, who want to pass a continuing budget resolution that funds every other part of the government but not the health care law. Other Republicans believe President Barack Obama will never sign a temporary funding bill that doesn’t include the signature legislation of his presidency. A 2014 continuing resolution is needed so that there is no government shutdown after Sept. 30, when the current appropriation bill expires.

But Cruz told CNN host Candy Crowley that he’s not so sold on the idea that Obama will let a government shutdown happen because his health care law isn’t funded.

Cruz admitted that despite the summer push to win grass-roots support to prevent even a dime going to Obamacare, he and other colleagues, who want to see the law defunded, haven’t got the votes needed at this time.

“We need 41 Republicans in the Senate or we need 218 Republicans in the House,” he said on the Sunday program. “And that will only happen, and you know what, this fight is likely to heat up in the month of September. That’s going to be when the battle is engaged.”

When Congress returns from its August recess, lawmakers have only nine legislative days to find a budget solution.