Lawmakers point fingers over budget deadlock

Michael Schwirtz / New York Times News Service /


With eight days left to avert a possible government shutdown, congressional leaders from both parties on Sunday passed around blame and resorted to name calling, but offered no clear path to a compromise that would allow for continued financing of government operations.

In television appearances, Republicans and Democrats accused each other of being responsible for the impasse. On the CNN program “State of the Union,” Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leader of the House, called her opponents “legislative arsonists.”

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said that Democrats in the Senate would probably use “brute political power,” by trying to invoke a simple majority vote that would not rely on Republican votes, to block a bill passed by House Republicans last week that linked financing for the government to the elimination of financing for President Barack Obama’s health care law, which is about to go into full effect.

Senate Democratic leaders are likely to respond to the House bill in the coming days by stripping out the health care provision and sending it back to the House, where Republicans will have little time to respond before the Oct. 1 deadline. Complicating matters further, congressional Republicans have threatened to refuse to raise the government’s borrowing limit later next month, meaning the country could default on some of its debt.

Cruz on Sunday called on Republicans in the House and Senate to unite around the repeal of money for the health care law. “We’ve been standing up, leading the fight to defund Obamacare,” Cruz said, adding later, “I believe we should stand our ground.”

Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., accused Cruz and Republican leaders of refusing to accept Obama’s re-election last November, which she described as in part a referendum on Obama’s health care law.

“I don’t think in America we should throw tantrums when we lose elections and threaten to shut down the government and refuse to pay the bills,” McCaskill said on “Fox News Sunday.” “The American people had a choice last November. They had a choice between someone who said, ‘repeal Obamacare,’ and President Obama.”