WASHINGTON – Americans are divided over whether President Barack Obama or Republicans would be to blame in the event of a government shutdown, according to a new Washington Post-Pew Research Center poll.
Thirty-six percent say Republicans would be at fault if the two sides aren’t able to strike a budget deal, while 35 percent would fault Obama in such a scenario. Seventeen percent said both, 10 percent said neither, and 1 percent had no opinion.
The Republican-led House recently approved a measure pushing $61 billion in cuts to hundreds of non-defense, discretionary federal programs. Many of the cuts won’t fly with Democrats, who call the bill draconian, setting up a showdown.
Congress failed to pass a budget for fiscal 2011, as some Democratic leaders argued last fall that the debt commission’s December report would need to be considered. Two continuing resolutions were subsequently passed to keep the government solvent, the latter of which expires at midnight on March 4.
If the two parties don’t reach a deal by Friday to continue funding the government, a shutdown would occur. It would likely halt government services like health care, delay passport applications, and result in the closure of national parks, museums and monuments.
Both sides have emphatically stated they would not like to see the government shut down, each scrambling to blame the other over the possibility.
Seeking to avoid such a scenario, the White House and Congressional Republicans are reportedly on the verge of passing a interim bill that would keep the government running through March 18, buying them time to craft a broader budget.
Republicans are haunted by memories of 1995, when a clash between a new GOP-led House and the Clinton White House led to a partial government shutdown, which turned public opinion decisively in Clinton’s favor.
But then, unlike now, the public had already decided prior to the shutdown that the Gingrich-led Republicans would be to blame, according to a 1995 Washington Post-ABC poll.
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