The U.S. Chamber of Commerce says it will be more engaged in next year’s midterm elections to help elect Republicans who understand business.

After watching House Republicans and their tea party-backed allies in Senate bring the nation to the brink of default in their quixotic effort to derail the Affordable Care Act, the business group said Friday it has no other choice than to get serious.

“The need is now more than ever to elect people who understand the free market and not silliness,” said Scott Reed, senior political strategist for the chamber.

That would set up a showdown between big business-backed GOP candidates and those favored by the ideologically driven wing, and one activist suggested Friday that Republican losses in 2016 could split the party into hostile conservative and moderate factions.

At least seven Republican senators, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, will face primary challenges next year.

The GOP needs to pick up six seats to regain control of the 100-member chamber they lost in 2006, and the party also hopes to protect its 32-seat majority in the U.S. House.

The Republican brand took a major hit during the 16-day government shutdown engineered by tea party-backed lawmakers, with GOP favorability ratings hitting record lows earlier this month, dropping 10 percentage points from September.

Another poll showed that 49 percent of U.S. adults view the tea party movement unfavorably, compared to 30 percent who do view it favorably.

But even as they try to pin blame for the deeply unpopular government shutdown on President Barack Obama, some of the most conservative lawmakers appear to be preparing to try it again.

"I would do anything, and I will continue to do anything I can, to stop the train wreck that is Obamacare," said Sen. Ted Cruz.

Watch video, courtesy of Bloomberg News, below:

[Image via KN /]