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September 27, 2013

Obama to Republicans: Pass a budget

President Barack Obama sought to put pressure on Republican lawmakers to come to a deal to keep the federal government running in an impromptu speech at the White House Friday afternoon.

"So far, the Republicans in the House of Representatives have refused to move forward," Obama said "And in fact, if you've been following the discussion, the Republicans in the House don't even make a pretense that, that's what this is about. Instead the House Republicans are so concerned about appeasing the tea party that they've threatened a government shutdown, or worse, unless I gut or repeal the the Affordable Care Act."

Obama said his message is: "Do not shut down the government. Do not shut down the economy. Pass a budget on time. Pay our bills on time. Refocus on the everyday concerns of the American people." 

Obama's made his brief remarks from the White House after it became increasingly clear that the Democratic-controlled Senate and Republican-controlled House are heading toward a showdown just days before the end of the fiscal year.

The House last week approved a stopgap budget that defunds the 2010 health care law, one of Obama's signature policies from his first term term. The Senate on Friday passed a budget that would keep the government open past while restoring health care funding.  

Obama praised the Senate for its vote. He did not answer reporters' questions.

"The good news is within the past couple of hours, the United States Senate, Democrats and Republicans, acted responsibly by voting to keep our government open and delivering the services the American people expect," he said. "Now it's up to the Republicans in the House of Representatives to do the same. I say that because, obviously, Democrats have a great interest in making sure that these vital services continue to help the American people."

If Congress and the White House fail to agree on a deal to pay the nation’s bills after Monday, the government would partially shut down Tuesday.

"Federal government has a large role across the country and touches the lives of millions of people, and those people will be harmed," Obama said. "And even the threat of a shutdown already is probably having a dampening effect on our economy. We saw that the last time these kinds of shenanigans were happening up on Capitol Hill. So any Republican, in Congress, whose currently watching, I would encourage you to think about who you're hurting."

A shutdown could mean Social Security payments and passport and visa applications could be delayed. The National Institutes of Health could stop accepting patients for research. National parks, museums and monuments could close.

"Past shutdowns have disrupted the economy, and this shutdown would as well," Obama said. "It would throw a wrench into the gears of our economy at a time when those gears have gained some traction. That's why many Republican senators and many Republican governors have urged Republicans to knock it off, pass a budget, and move on. Let's get this done."


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"Planet Washington" covers politics and government. It is written by journalists in McClatchy's Washington Bureau.

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