Obama demands quick House vote on shutdown
Sperling fears ‘precedent’ for future fights
By Dave Boyer
The Washington Times
Monday, October 7, 2013
On the seventh day of the shutdown, President Obama called on House Republican leaders Monday to allow a vote immediately on a short-term measure to reopen government operations.
Mr. Obama said he strongly suspects "there are enough votes" in the House to reopen the government today.
"The truth of the matter is, there are enough Republican and Democratic votes in the House of Representatives right now to end this shutdown immediately with no partisan strings attached," Mr. Obama said during a surprise visit to FEMA headquarters in the district. "The House should hold that vote today."
The president said he is "happy" to talk to Republicans about budget issues, but not under threat of a shutdown or a government default.
"We're not going to establish that pattern," Mr. Obama said, urging the GOP to "move beyond this manufactured crisis."
Speaker John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican, has said there are not enough votes in the House to pass a "clean" resolution to reopen the government temporarily. He said Democrats must accept changes to Obamacare before Republicans will agree to a budget deal.
"Providing fairness to the American people, under Obamacare, is all we're asking for," he said.
Mr. Obama dared Mr. Boehner to hold a vote.
"If Republicans and Speaker Boehner are saying there aren't enough votes, then they should prove it," Mr. Obama said. "Let the bill go to the floor and let's see what happens. Just vote."
Some Republican lawmakers dispute the speaker's assessment of the likely vote tally, saying there are probably enough bipartisan votes to approve a short-term budget without addressing Obamacare or any other legislation.
Mr. Boehner said repeatedly Sunday that he wants to have a "conversation" with the president over raising the borrowing limit, which stands at $16.7 trillion. A spokesman for Mr. Boehner said the president's attitude is "reckless."
"It's stunning that President Obama would rather default on our debt than sit down with the other party to negotiate," said Boehner spokesman Brendan Buck. "This reckless, arrogant approach threatens our economy and ignores decades of precedent under divided government.
"We're a week into a government shutdown and rapidly approaching our borrowing limit, and still the president refuses to pick up the phone. If America defaults on its debt, the president will have to explain why he didn't even try to find a resolution," Mr. Buck said.
The government shutdown entered its seventh day Monday, with no resolution in sight. And with the debt deadline looming, senior White House aides said the "era of threatening default" must end.
Gene Sperling, top economic adviser to President Obama, said the president will not budge on his position of refusing to negotiate with the GOP over the borrowing limit.
"If you sanction through negotiation the legitimacy of somebody threatening default, then that is going to happen over and over again," Mr. Sperling said at a breakfast hosted by Politico.
In Indonesia, Secretary of State John F. Kerry represented Mr. Obama Monday at an economic summit after the president canceled the trip due to the shutdown. Mr. Kerry tried to assure Asian leaders that the problems in Washington are just "politics."
"No one should mistake what is happening in Washington as anything more than a moment of politics," Mr. Kerry said in Bali. "We've all seen it before; we'll probably see it again, but I guarantee you we will move beyond this and we will move beyond it with strength and determination."
Mr. Obama's absence is especially poorly timed as Chinese President Xi Jinping is making new overtures with other Asian nations on trade and national security issues.
"I want to emphasize that there is nothing that will shake the commitment of the United States to the rebalance to Asia that President Obama is leading," Mr. Kerry told the conferees. "And I think it's fair to say to all of you that we are very, very proud to be a Pacific nation."