President Obama attributed a looming shutdown to “impossible promises made to the extreme right wing of their party” by House Republican leaders,” calling their failure to pass a spending bill that did not attack his health care law “the height of irresponsibility.”
“You don’t get to extract a ransom for doing your job,” Obama said in a short speech delivered from the White House briefing room.
Obama’s remarks came shortly after House Republican leaders announced a new plan to stave off a shutdown by delaying Obamacare for a year while cutting health subsidies for Capitol Hill staffers and other federal appointees. The president and Senate Democrats have ruled out those ideas – and any changes to the health care law – in no uncertain terms, setting the stage for a likely shutdown at midnight.
“One faction of one party in one house of Congress in one branch of government doesn’t get to shut down the entire government just to refight the results of an election,” Obama said.
While the president reassured Americans that crucial federal operations like air traffic control would continue through a shutdown, the resulting crisis would shutter government officers and furlough thousands of workers.
“It would throw a wrench into the gears of the economy at a time those gears have gained some traction,” he said.
Obama noted that ironically one area that would not be affected in a shutdown would be his health care law, which is largely governed by mandatory spending.
“The Affordable Care Act is moving forward,” he said. “That funding is already in place. You can’t shut it down.”
Just after 9:00, as the clock ticked down, Obama tweeted on the White House account:
It’s time for Congress to do the right thing for our country and pass a budget that prevents a #governmentshutdown. —bo
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) October 1, 2013