WASHINGTON >> President Barack Obama ramped up pressure on Republicans today to avoid a post-midnight government shutdown, saying that failure to pass a short-term spending measure to keep agencies operating would “throw a wrench into the gears” of a recovering economy.
Late today, Obama called Republican and Democratic congressional leaders but there was no breakthrough in the budget impasse.
Earlier, Obama urged House Republicans to pass a short-term spending bill free of any conditions that would weaken the nation’s 3-year-old health care law.
Obama spoke as the House and Senate traded measures, with the Republican-led House seeking to delay implementation of the health care law and the Democratic Senate insisting on an unencumbered short-term spending bill.
Obama did embrace one GOP measure today, signing legislation that would ensure that members of the armed forces would continue to get paid during any shutdown. The House had passed the legislation over the weekend and the Senate approved it today.
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, has been under pressure from conservatives to use the stopgap spending bill and subsequent legislation that would raise the nation’s borrowing authority as leverage to delay or cut federal finances to the health care law as a way of stopping it in its tracks. The health care law is entering a crucial new stage on Tuesday when people begin to sign up for the insurance marketplaces set up under the law to help the uninsured.
“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, responding to House maneuvers in the White House briefing room.
The spending fight is a prelude to the bigger confrontation over the nation’s credit limit, expected to hit its $16.7 trillion cap in mid-October. Obama today urged Republicans not to saddle the legislation to increase the debt ceiling with measures designed to undermine the health care law. He has vowed not to negotiate over the debt ceiling, noting that a default would be worse for the economy than a partial government shutdown.
On Wednesday, Obama is scheduled to meet with top Wall Street CEOs to discuss the state of the economy, including the debt ceiling. The meeting is with members of the Financial Services Forum, a trade group representing the 19 biggest financial service institutions doing business in the United States, including Goldman Sachs, Bank of America and Citigroup. The Forum joined 250 other business organizations in a letter to Congress today calling on them to avoid a shutdown, raise the debt ceiling and then address long-term spending issues and deficits.
Monday evening, Obama called Boehner, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
The call with Boehner lasted nearly 10 minutes. Boehner spokesman Brendan Buck said Boehner told Obama that the health care law was costing jobs.