Washington (CNN) - While Congress debates how to continue funding the government, the political debate Sunday centered on the president’s involvement in the negotiations.
Republican Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona blamed the Democrats, who controlled the House and Senate before the midterm elections, for the current budget battles and touted the Republican plan to fund the government for the remainder of this fiscal year.
“I think it’s up to the president to propose what he would do instead,” Kyl added.
The current two-week continuing resolution that is funding the government expires March 18th. Last week, the Senate rejected the House bill, as well as an alternate proposal from Senate Democrats that would cut $6.5 billion from the current spending levels for the rest of the fiscal year, which ends September 30th.
But both parties agreed Friday to move ahead with a three-week stopgap bill that would cut an additional six billion dollars, avoiding a potential federal shutdown.
Republican Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California acknowledged the three-week plan is likely to pass through the House, but blamed Democrats and the president for the current situation.
“The president didn’t even call the speaker until the day before when we were going,” McCarthy told CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley about the debate surrounding the previous continuing resolution. “He enlisted the Vice president to be the negotiator. They came in for one meeting then the vice president left the country and we were only funded for 2 weeks. How serious are they about solving this problem?”
“Look, we're not going to shut down the government, we want the Democrats to step up. You can't negotiate with yourself,” McCarthy added.
Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, who also said the three-week plan is likely to pass through the House and Senate, said the president is “working behind the scenes.”
“I’ve met with him (President Obama) with leadership,” Durbin said on “State of the Union.” “I know he is reaching out to try to find some accommodation here.”
The Senate majority whip said there is “frustration among members of Congress that things aren’t moving to a conclusion.”
“But the president’s establishing priorities, the most important American priorities,” Durbin said. “I think that should guide us in the negotiation.”
– CNN's Deirdre Walsh and Ed Hornick contributed to this report
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