Believing there’s still a risk of a government shutdown, U.S. Rep. Todd Young, R-In., says President Barack Obama has failed to lead on budget negotiations.
The freshman lawmaker, who represents most of southern Indiana, says the president has punted on the important debate around the federal budget and hasn’t been heavily involved in the mediation.
“President Obama regrettably has been disconnected from this entire negotiation process,” he says. “I know he kicked off his re-election campaign this week and he’s very busy with other things, but right now this one would think would bubble to the top of his list.”
Republican leaders have made it a talking point that Mr. Obama isn’t leading, but the president called congressional leaders to the White House as early as Tuesday. He has continued to meet with them Thursday to discuss any compromises.
On Wednesday, Mr. Obama met with congressional leaders for another round of talks and noted the improved negotiations. He said that a shutdown would be unacceptable to the American people.
Afterwards, Speaker John Boehner said the disagreements have narrowed, but a compromise has still not been reached. And earlier today, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said a shutdown is more likely, accusing the GOP of clogging up negotiations with policy disputes over abortion and environmental regulations.
Still, Congressman Young says the negotiations look brighter and pointed to legislation that would guarantee temporary funding for the Department of Defense.
The Republican-controlled House is set to pass a one-week stopgap bill that includes $12 billion in cuts while continuing funding for the Pentagon. The White House and congressional Democrats have rejected that proposal, saying only a full budget plan would be acceptable.
The political back and forth has certainly put anxiety on people who are worried about what services would cease as a result of a shutdown, but Young says Republicans were elected to deal with the debt and government spending.
And he isn’t concerned about the political fallout either.
“You know I don’t think much about blame. I came here to vote my conscience, to do the right thing and ultimately I have faith in the constituents that they’re going to trust my judgment. So blame isn’t something that those of us who want to be leaders think a lot about,” he says.
The latest polling indicates that there is plenty of frustration with the president and Congress going around.
According to a NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey, 37 percent of respondents would blame congressional Republicans if there was a shutdown. Another 20 percent say they would blame Mr. Obama.