WASHINGTON -- As the nation careened closer towards a government shutdown Tuesday, the political protagonists traded blame Sunday over whose fault it will be if federal-salaried workers are furloughed and some federal services are shuttered.
The Republican-controlled House of Representatives was in recess Sunday after voting in the pre-dawn hours to keep the government funded through Dec. 15 but delay implementation of the Affordable Care Act. The Democratic controlled Senate remained in weekend recess, refusing to come back until its scheduled return at 2 pm Monday. And President Barack Obama, who spent the day Saturday playing golf, remained out of sight Sunday.
Tomorrow, the Senate will do exactly what we said we would do and reject these measures," said Adam Jentleson, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. At that point, Republicans will be faced with the same choice they have always faced: put the Senate's clean funding bill on the floor and let it pass with bipartisan votes, or force a Republican government shutdown.
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, accused the Senate of trying to milk the shutdown clock which tolls Monday at midnight - by not taking up the House measure until 2 p.m. on Monday. That would give both deliberative houses of Congress only 10 hours to avert a shutdown.
If the Senate stalls until Monday afternoon instead of working today, it would be an act of breathtaking arrogance by the Senate Democratic leadership, Boehner said in a statement. They will be deliberately bringing the nation to the brink of a government shutdown for the sake of raising taxes on seniors pacemakers and childrens hearing aids and plowing ahead with train wreck that is the presidents health care law.
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who has spearheaded efforts to force a showdown over the health are law, blamed Reid for being stubborn and refusing to compromise.
So far Majority Leader Harry Reid has essentially told the House of Representatives and the American people, go jump in a lake, Cruz told NBCs Meet the Press. He said, Im not willing to compromise; Im not willing to even talk. His position is 100 percent of Obamacare must be funded in all instances, and other than that, hes going to shut the government down.
About two dozen House members gathered on the steps outside a closed Senate chamber Sunday to draw attention to the Senates absence.
The Senate not being here, Harry Reid is off on his own somewhere, is all the evidence you need to know they want to shut down the government, said Rep. Tim Griffin, R-Ark. I personally believe that Sen. Reid and the president, for political purposes, want to shut down the government.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., insisted Sunday that his party isnt angling for a shutdown.
Americans do not want a government shutdown and they do not want Obamacare, McConnell said.
Democrats maintained that a shutdown is part of the Republican strategy. Former President Bill Clinton, appearing on ABCs This Week with George Stephanopoulos, accused House Republicans and the tea party of trying to dictate over the Senate, over House Democrats, over the speaker of the House of (their) own party and over the president. He urged Obama to stand firm.