Calling the looming government shutdown a "reckless Republican" strategy, Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes is accusing incumbent U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., of watching from the sidelines.
The budget impasse in Washington is expected to continue when the Democratic-controlled Senate rejects a House measure this afternoon.
If a deal isn't reached the federal government will close on Tuesday at 12:01 a.m.
At issue is implementation of President Obama's health care law, which Republican want to delay for one year. But that is considered a non-starter in the Senate and for the Obama administration.
In the meantime, the Grimes campaign is going on the offensive against McConnell by highlighting how a shutdown would impact Kentucky.
The news release points out a shutdown would close centers for 16,000 children who attend Head Start, delay payments for U.S. military service members and furlough 25,000 federal employees in the state.
Grimes says McConnell needs to be more involved in the negotiations while reminding supporters about the GOP leadership's split with Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas.
"As our government stands on the brink of shutdown, I call on Senator McConnell to come out of the shadows, and for once, side with Kentucky," says Grimes. "The Republican shutdown will devastate our economy and Kentucky's middle-class families. The hardworking men and women of the Commonwealth deserve a Senator who leads—not one missing in action. Rather than renouncing leadership responsibilities to Senator Cruz, it is time for Senator McConnell to step up and deliver for his constituents back home."
McConnell did say over the weekend the House bill gives Senate Democrats a pathway to avoid a shutdown, but the GOP leader hasn't been as involved as in past budget crises.
Part of the political calculation for the Democrats across the country and in Washington is the recent GOP infighting has weakened Republicans.
Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid's "no compromise" strategy could backfire, but polling shows most American blame the GOP for the shutdown.
Reid’s strategy boils down to a few factors: If Democrats give even a few small concessions on a short-term stopgap funding measure, Republicans will demand even bigger concessions to avoid a debt default in mid-October. Since Republicans have been engulfed in an intraparty war over how far to take a shutdown threat, Reid and his top lieutenants are convinced that the political backlash from a shutdown would be devastating to the GOP, potentially costing them their majority in the House.
The McConnell campaign is responding to Grimes's comments, arguing her criticism must mean she supports a 2.3 percent tax on medical devices in the Affordable Care Act.
"Given Alison Lundergan Grimes' criticism of the House passed funding bill, which would keep the government open, that means she does not support the repeal of the Obamacare tax on medical devices or delaying this misguided law that is wreaking havoc on the health care and jobs of Kentuckians throughout the Commonwealth," says McConnell campaign spokeswoman Allison Moore.
The levy on manufacturers would generate $29 billion in revenue over the next ten years, and applies to devices such as pacemakers and defibrillators. Republicans and industry leaders argue it will kill up to 43,000 jobs, and many Democrats agree with that sentiment.
"It is truly striking that Alison Lundergan Grimes would choose to take a partisan stand with Barack Obama and Harry Reid to shut down the government rather than allow Kentuckians to be spared the devastating impact of Obamacare for one year," Moore says.
UPDATE 2:00 p.m.:
A report by Politico says McConnell is weighing support amongst GOP lawmakers about a one-week funding bill, but it doesn't appear to be favored by House Republicans.
House conservatives slamming McConnell's one-wk CR as they enter cong mtg...— Robert Costa (@robertcostaNRO) September 30, 2013