The president also called on lawmakers to stop "governing by crisis."
President Obama, placing all of the blame for the government shutdown that began at 12:01 a.m. today on the House GOP, accused Republican lawmakers of engaging in an "ideological crusade" that could erode the nation's still-fragile economic recovery.
"This Republican shutdown did not have to happen, but I want every American to understand why it did happen. Republicans in the House of Representatives refused to fund the government unless we defunded or dismantled the Affordable Care Act," the president said. "In other words, they've demanded ransom just for doing their job."
Obama delivered his remarks from the White House Rose Garden following a meeting with beneficiaries of the health care law. Earlier in the day, he sent an open letter to federal employees pledging to keep working to get Congress to end the shutdown.
"None of this is fair to you," Obama wrote. "And should it continue, it will make it more difficult to keep attracting the kind of driven, patriotic, idealistic Americans to public service that our citizens deserve and that our system of self-government demands."
In an effort to up the ante and pressure Republicans to authorize funding to reopen government, the president also warned that the longer the shutdown lasts the more harm it could exact.
He also noted the irony of how House Republicans have "shut down a whole bunch of parts of the government, but the Affordable Care Act is still open for business."
As he has several times in the past week, the president also reiterated that he will not negotiate with Congress over raising the nation's debt ceiling and called on lawmakers to essentially end the drama that takes place during budget debates.
"Congress generally has to stop governing by crisis," the president said. "They have to break this habit. It is a drag on the economy. It is not worthy of this country."
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