Obama to House Republicans: Do the Right Thing; Keep Government Open

The president and Democratic leaders urge the GOP to pass a short-term budget with no strings attached.

Posted: 09/30/2013 05:49 PM EDT

As House Republicans prepared for the third time a continuing budget resolution that defunds the Affordable Care Act, President Obama and House and Senate Democrats made it very clear that they're not budging.

In his second appearance in the White House briefing room since last Friday, Obama acknowledged that "oftentimes to the consternation of my own party," he's demonstrated a willingness to compromise. He said he's willing to work with members of both parties to make the Affordable Care Act work better at another time, but Republicans will not be able to shut it down.

The president called out the Tea Party lawmakers who can't or won't accept that the health care is law and are the driving force behind the threats of a government shutdown.

"[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. Keeping the people's government open is not a concession to meet," he said. "Keeping vital services running and hundreds of thousands of Americans on the job is not something you give to the other side. It's our basic responsibility."

Obama said he hopes and expects that "in the 11th hour once again Congress will choose to do the right thing and that the House of Representatives in particular will choose the right thing."

But as of late Monday afternoon, Republicans also were holding firm. The bill they plan to vote on tonight includes a one-year delay of the health law's individual mandate to buy health insurance. The proposed legislation also removes a subsidy included in the law that congressional lawmakers, the president, the vice president and their staffs can use to pay for health care coverage. 

At separate press conferences earlier, Democratic Senate and House leaders asked what would have happened if, when they were in charge, they demanded an end to former President Bush's tax credits in exchange for passing the Troubled Asset Relief Program. Instead, it was a bipartisan effort that prevented a collapse of the financial markets during the economic crisis.

"So for them to be putting these gotcha things in this bill is really beneath the dignity of what we come here to do unless what you came here to do was to shut down government," said Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

New York Sen. Chuck Schumer said that if they give in to Republican demands, there would be constant threats by different groups to shut down the government if they don't get their way on a wide variety of issues.

"It could go on and on. It would be absurd and it would be unprecedented," he said.

Democrats in both chambers also challenged House Speaker John Boehner to at least present a "clean" bill for a vote that doesn't delay or defund the health care law because they suspect it would actually pass.

"Many House Republicans have admitted openly that this is a fool's errand," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of the GOP's efforts to shut down the government to make an ideological point.

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 (Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

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