Bill Nelson in a conference call with reporters blamed House Republicans for blowing up a deal to prevent a government shutdown. He says an agreement was reached late Thursday to cut $78 billion from the budget -- but that Republicans held up the deal because they want to slice money for women's health services -- an assertion House Speaker John Boehner has rejected.
"The Republican position is, unless you eliminate that funding they're going to shut down the government," Nelson said.
Asked whether Democrats don't share some of the blame for failing to pass a budget in 2010, Nelson said, "This shouldn’t be a time of pointing fingers at each other, this is time to get something done."
"The entire Congress has a responsibility, but we are at the bewitching hour and we have to get consenus," he said.
He said the shutdown could affect a number of programs in Florida, including the processing of small business loans and tax refunds. Exports, he said, won't leave the state. And he suggested there could be a delay in the space shuttle flight later this month if enough NASA workers have to be furloughed.
"The ripple effects are bound to affect the timing schedule," he said. Some lawmakers -- including Boehner -- have said they won't take a salary during the shutdown -- and Nelson's office (the satellite dropped before he could answer the question) says he'll contribute to charity his salary during the shutdown. Senators earn $174,000 annually.