Republicans, Democrats Prepare for Shutdown Blame Game

Republicans and Democrats aren't blinking ahead of government shutdown.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid looks at a countdown clock as Senate Democratic leaders blame conservative Republicans for holding up a bill to keep the government running in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 26, 2013.
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A partial federal government shutdown won't occur until 12 a.m. Tuesday morning, but the blame game has already begun.

[READ: GOP Pushes Bill Inching Government Closer to Shutdown]

Republicans passed legislation Sunday to tie a short-term funding bill to a one-year delay of the Affordable Care Act and a repeal of the medical device tax.

Democrats, meanwhile, dug in, refusing to negotiate Obamacare as Congress attempts to keep the government's lights on. Despite GOP calls for the Senate to come back to work Sunday, Majority Leader Harry Reid, R-Nev., will try to run out the clock, throwing the funding bill hot potato back to the House just hours before the government is slated to shut down.

 

The Senate is expected Monday afternoon to send yet another clean continuing resolution back to the House of Representatives. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, will then have to choose between a government shutdown or abandoning his most conservative members in the GOP conference and pass a clean spending bill.

Just hours before the shutdown, communications between Republican and Democratic leadership appeared to be nonexistent.

"We learn about what the speaker is proposing through their press releases," says ranking member on the House Budget Committee Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md.

Van Hollen told reporters during a Christian Science Monitor Breakfast Monday that negotiations were stunted because Boehner has let himself be taken hostage by the tea party caucus.

"This is the time when the speaker has got to step up and exert some leadership," Van Hollen says. "What has happened is that at every juncture when [Boehner] has had to either exert leadership or kowtow to the far right, he has wound up throwing a bone to the far right. He ends up feeding the beast. He has been feeding the beast all along here."

[ALSO: John Boehner's Tough Choice]

Boehner had hoped to stave off his tea party caucus and tie the Obamacare fight to the debt ceiling negotiation in mid October, but his rank-and-file members wanted to push the subject sooner than later. With the Affordable Care Act's marketplaces opening Tuesday, many conservative lawmakers see the continuing resolution as the last and best chance for Congress to halt the full implementation of Obamacare in its tracks.

The GOP in the House has been egged on by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who launched a 21-hour talkathon on the Senate floor in solidarity, and has held private conversations with various House members encouraging them to keep up the fight.

"The American people overwhelmingly reject Obamacare," Cruz said during an appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press."

"They understand it's not working," he said. "The only people who aren't listening to the argument are the career politicians in Washington."

The Republican Party however, is anything but united. GOP senators have been public about their distaste for the House GOP's tactics on the continuing resolution.

Republican Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Bob Corker of Tennessee took their party to task on the Senate floor for using a funding bill to fight Obamacare.

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, released a statement Monday condemning the House's Obamacare obsession.

[POLL: Voters Will Blame Democrats and Republicans for Shutdown]

"I voted against Obamacare and have repeatedly voted to repeal, reform, and replace it, but I disagree with the strategy of linking Obamacare with the continuing functioning of government — a strategy that cannot possibly work," Collins said in the statement.

A partial government shutdown will put thousands of federal employees on unpaid leave and close national parks.

Some moderate House members like Rep. Charlie Dent, R-Penn., were still looking to build a bipartisan coalition to pass a short-term CR, which could give House and Senate leadership more time to come to the negotiating table. But that effort appeared Monday morning unlikely to materialize.

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  • Why a Government Shutdown Is Good for Ted Cruz
  • What Ted Cruz's Stand Means for the Tea Party