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Frustration Mounts Over Government Shutdown

Schumer, King And Bloomberg Call For End To Standoff
Sen. Charles Schumer (credit: Getty Images)

Sen. Charles Schumer (credit: Getty Images)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Some of New York’s political heavyweights voiced their frustration Sunday over the partial government shutdown, which entered its sixth day.

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) attacked House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) for his role in the closure of the government, a tactic used in a bid to defund or stall President Barack Obama’s health care law. Schumer said Boehner will soon feel heat from the business community, which still carries a lot of weight with mainstream Republicans.

“The blame will fall on Speaker Boehner and the Republican Party for this upcoming disaster,” Schumer said on ABC’s “This Week.” “They’ll have to back off.”

Schumer also called on Boehner to let House members vote on reopening the government. The speaker has said he believes the House does not have votes to end the shutdown.

“Let me issue him a friendly challenge: Put it on the floor Monday or Tuesday,” Schumer said. “I would bet there are the votes to pass it. We have just about every Democrat. Twenty-one Republicans have publicly said they would (vote for it). There are many more who have said they privately would.”

Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) criticized his own party for going along with what he called a bad strategy.

“We don’t defund a law that we don’t like,” King said on “Fox News Sunday.” “If we want to defund something, we should repeal it, and we do it by the same way the president got it signed — elect Republicans to both houses of Congress, repeal it, and then have a Republican president signing it. At this rate, this was a strategy doomed to failure, and Ted Cruz has now walked away from it. Now he’s saying we should negotiate on the debt limit, which is what we should have been doing for the last month.”

In his weekly radio address on 1010 WINS, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, an independent, said the shutdown is hurting New Yorker, which employs 27,000 federal workers. It also could delay federal aid from reaching victims of superstorm Sandy.

“Ensuring that government works for people should be every political leader’s aim,” Bloomberg said. “It’s a certainly been a guiding principle for administration, but government can’t work for anyone if is is shutdown and if the people we elect to lead refuse to work together to solve problems and move our country forward. Right now, Washington’s gridlock is doing real harm to our nation’s economy, and if they don’t get their acts together soon, New York City families, especially those who endured the worst from Hurricane Sandy, will feel real pain.”

Boehner maintained Sunday that he sees no way out of the government shutdown unless Obama is willing to engage in negotiations with Republicans.

But Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew rejected that approach, saying Congress needs to quickly pass legislation reopening the government and also a measure boosting the nation’s $16.7 trillion debt limit. Lew said Obama has not changed his opposition to tying these measures to Republican demands on health care and spending cuts.

“What we’ve seen is — ‘Unless I get my way, you know, that we’ll bring these terrible consequences of shutdown or default,’ ” Lew said Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “Those kinds of threats have to stop.”

Boehner and Lew in separate television interviews gave no hint of any compromise to end a budget impasse that has shut down part of the government since Tuesday and is running the risk of a first-ever default on the government’s debt unless the current debt ceiling is raised by an Oct. 17 deadline.

Asked how the standoff might end, Boehner said Sunday on ABC that he was uncertain: “If I knew, I’d tell you.”

He added that Obama can call him any time to start negotiations to end the shutdown. “He knows what my phone number is,” Boehner said.

In one promising development, a large chunk of the furloughed federal work force is headed back to the Pentagon, and those who remain at home or are working without paychecks are a step closer to getting back pay once the partial government shutdown ends. But a resolution to the impasse itself was nowhere in sight.

The federal government was partially shut down Tuesday, the first day of the new budget year, after Republicans and Democrats couldn’t agree on a plan to continue funding federal agencies.

Since Tuesday, the GOP-led House has passed several bills to reopen selected parts of the government. Democratic leaders are rejecting the piecemeal approach, saying the entire government should be reopened and the 800,000 federal workers on furlough put back to work.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ended the argument for most Pentagon civilian employees, ordering nearly all 350,000 back on the job.

Hagel said he based his decision on a Pentagon interpretation of a law called the Pay Our Military Act, which was passed shortly before the partial government shutdown began. Republican lawmakers had complained in recent days that the Obama administration was slow to bring back those workers even though the law allowed it.

In a written statement released Saturday explaining his action, Hagel said the Justice Department advised that the law does not permit a blanket recall of all Pentagon civilians. But government attorneys concluded that the law does allow the Pentagon to eliminate furloughs for “employees whose responsibilities contribute to the morale, well-being, capabilities and readiness of service members.”

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(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)