Cantor: Democrats would take blame for federal shutdown

The public will blame Democrats if lawmakers are unable to reach an agreement to avoid a government shutdown, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said Monday.

Cantor charged that Senate Democrats' inability to draft a serious spending plan, rather than divisions within his own party, is perpetuating the gridlock on Capitol Hill. 

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"In the scope of our debt crisis, if Senator [Harry] Reid and Senator [Charles] Schumer force the government to partially shut down over [the GOP's] sensible spending cuts, Americans will hold them accountable," Cantor said in a statement.

Cantor's comments are the latest salvo in the contentious negotiations over a spending bill to fund the government through the rest of the fiscal year. Lawmakers face a shutdown if they fail to hammer out a deal to fund the government by April 8. 

Democrats appear willing to offer up to $20 billion more in spending cuts on top of $10 billion that have been made this year. But Cantor's comments indicate the GOP thinks that is not enough.

"The Reid/Schumer leadership team has failed to take our fiscal crisis seriously, as members of their own Democratic caucus have pointed out," Cantor said. "Our federal government borrows nearly forty cents of each dollar it spends, yet Senate Democrats want to keep spending money that we don't have."

Both sides appear to remain far apart on a proposal, increasing the likelihood of a shutdown. As the clock ticks, each side has debated which party would bear the consequences if the government shuts down even though both have said they do not want one to happen.

A poll published Monday showed a public split over whether President Obama or the GOP is better equipped to handle the budget. Some Democrats have said that voters will punish Republicans for a shutdown like they did in the mid-1990s, the last time it occurred.

Democrats have ramped up pressure on Republicans to agree to a compromise and abanadon conservative elements of their party pushing for deeper spending cuts.

"For the sake of our economy, it’s time for mainstream Republicans to stand up to the Tea Party and rejoin Democrats at the table to negotiate a responsible solution that cuts spending while protecting jobs," Reid (D-Nev.), the majority leader, said in a statement.