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Lawmakers trade blame on situation

WASHINGTON — As the nation moved closer to a government shutdown Tuesday, the political protagonists traded blame Sunday over whose fault it will be if federal employees are furloughed and some federal services are closed.

The Republican-controlled House was in recess Sunday after voting overnight 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 p.m. Monday. And President Barack Obama 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 today at midnight — by not taking up the House measure until today. That would give 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 written 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 children’s hearing aids and plowing ahead with train wreck that is the president’s health care law.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., insisted Sunday that his party isn’t 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 ABC’s “This Week,” 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.

“They’re mad because they don’t want to negotiate. It seems almost spiteful,” said Clinton, who was president during government shutdowns in 1995 and 1996.

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