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More would blame Republicans for government shutdown: poll

A traffic sign is seen near the U.S. Capitol building in Washington March 1, 2013. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
A traffic sign is seen near the U.S. Capitol building in Washington March 1, 2013. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

By Susan Heavey

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - More people will blame congressional Republicans than President Barack Obama if the government shuts down this week and most want a budget deal to avoid disruption to federal funding and services, a poll released on Monday showed.

Forty-six percent said that if government agencies and programs start closing on Tuesday, they would fault Republicans in Congress while 36 percent said they would blame Obama, the CNN survey found. Thirteen percent said both would be at fault.

About 60 percent of the 803 U.S. adults polled said they want lawmakers to pass a budget agreement to avoid the shutdown, according to the telephone survey conducted over the weekend.

Washington faces a midnight Monday deadline to avert a government shutdown, with Republicans and Democrats blaming each other for the funding impasse that could force federal agencies and programs to close for the first time in 17 years.

The Republican-controlled House of Representatives on Sunday passed a measure tying government funding to a delay of Obama's landmark healthcare law. The Democratic-controlled Senate was to reconvene at 2 p.m. (1800 GMT), and Senate Democrats have vowed to quash the House plan.

The CNN poll showed that the 2010 Affordable Care Act, called Obamacare, is not popular, but that most people said overall federal funding is more important.

While 57 percent said they oppose the healthcare law, 60 percent said "it is more important for Congress to avoid a shutdown than to make major changes to the new health care law," CNN said.

Just one-third said it was more important for Congress to block the healthcare law by cutting its funding, the survey showed.

CNN's findings mirror other recent polls that also found more U.S. adults blame conservative Republicans for any possible closure. Overall, surveys have shown people have little tolerance for government shutdowns.

In a CBS/New York Times poll last week, eight in 10 people said it would be unacceptable for Obama or lawmakers to threaten shutdowns during budget negotiations to achieve their goals. A Pew Research Center poll, also released last week, said the majority of people in the United States want lawmakers to be more willing to compromise.

Any shutdown would be bad for the Unites States, respondents to CNN's poll said. Nearly seven in 10 said a shutdown for a few days would be negative, with that number rising to nearly eight in 10 if closures last a few weeks.

CNN said the poll, conducted Friday through Sunday by ORC International, has a margin of error plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

(Editing by Mohammad Zargham)

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