Calling it Washington, D.C., “silliness,” Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer is blaming the government shutdown on a faction in the Republican Party, which he argues is holding the country hostage.
The mayor's comments come as federal lawmakers appear to be further entrenched in their positions.
Congress failed to reach a budget deal on Monday to finance the government and certain services.
Earlier Tuesday, the Senate rejected the latest House effort to hold a conference ,and no meetings between President Obama and congressional leaders have been set.
Fischer, a Democrat, joined a chorus of elected officials outside of Washington who are scolding lawmakers over the shutdown and its possible effects on state and local governments.
“If there’s a prolonged shutdown that’s going to affect the confidence of people and that’s not going to be good for business. We do not need to go back into another recession because of this silliness that’s going on in Washington, D.C. right now where people can’t come together on agreement,” he says.
This shutdown is the first in nearly two decades, and its biggest impact thus far is the furloughing of around 800,000 federal employees across the country. As of 2011, approximately 9,000 federal employees were working in Louisville, but not all of them will be furloughed if they’re considered essential personnel.
A number of monuments and agencies have already announced their closures, such as the Library of Congress and National Zoo with more expected this week.
In the first day of the shutdown, many lawmakers spent the day trying to avoid taking the political blame.
Speaking on the Senate Tuesday, Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky once again criticized Democrats for killing the fourth measure out of the GOP-controlled House.
“They’ve now said they won’t even agree to sit down and work out our differences. They won’t even talk about it. They literally just voted against working out a compromise,” he says.
New poll numbers show the American public is putting most of the blame on congressional Republicans, with just 26 percent approving of the way the GOP has handled the budget negotiations. But the Democrats aren't fairing much better, with 34 percent supporting their handling of the situation.
McConnell went further, saying Democrats wanted to shut down the government in order to gain a better political foothold.
“They’ve already started that particular routine. They’ll say it was the mean old Republicans or the Tea Party or Fox News or maybe even George W. Bush. They shut down the government and now they’re praying the American people will think somebody else is responsible,” he says.
Senate Democrats argue negotiations with House Republicans should not begin until Speaker John Boehner introduces a clean spending bill that doesn't seek to tamper with President Obama's health care law.
Observers doubt whether this latest pitch to appoint conferees will thaw the shutdown. Reports from earlier this year show the GOP had in fact declined holding conference negotiations on a long-term budget deal in the spring.
From The Washington Post:
In the meantime, Republicans face a listless summer, with little appetite for compromise but no leverage to shape an agreement. Without that leverage, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said Tuesday, there is no point in opening formal budget negotiations between the House and the Senate, because Democrats have no reason to consider the kind of far-reaching changes to Medicare and the U.S. tax code that Republicans see as fundamental building blocks of a deal.
What is telling is the divide within the GOP itself.
According to a Pew Research survey conducted earlier this month, only one-third of Americans wanted lawmakers to “stand by their principles” in the face of a shutdown.
Among Republican voters, 54 percent said they preferred a compromise even on a budget deal they disagreed with. But when self-described Tea Party Republicans were asked the same question, just 20 percent said they wanted their representatives to settle.
“The numbers are showing it’s an extreme, small wing of the Republican Party that’s really holding the Republican Party hostage and also hurting the Democrats as well,” says Fischer. “You’re seeing people that are representing 90 percent of the country wanting to get this thing done. It’s a heck of a problem right now, but I’m assuming we can work through it and something good can come out the other side.”