President Obama is defending the partisan budget speech that he delivered just hours after the mass shooting at the Washington Navy Yard.
In an interview Tuesday night with the Spanish-language network Telemundo, Mr. Obama said he was fully briefed on the shooting before he went on camera to accuse congressional Republicans of trying “to hurt people just to score political points.”
“I think that everybody understands that the minute something like this [shooting] happens, I’m in touch with the FBI, I’m in touch with my national security team, we’re making sure that all the assets are out there for us to deal with this as well as we can,” Mr. Obama said. “On the other hand, what is also important to remember is — is that — Congress has a lot of work to do right now. We don’t have a budget that’s passed.”
Republicans and other critics of the president’s Monday-morning speech said it was an inappropriate time to engage in partisan politics, as the emergency response to the mass murder was still unfolding. But the president said his speech was necessary because the federal government is at risk of a shutdown.
“We’re hearing that — a certain faction of Republicans, in the House of Representatives in particular, are arguing for government shutdown or even a default for the United States of America, losing our financial credibility around the world if they don’t get 100 percent of what they want,” he said.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, criticized the president Wednesday for using the five-year anniversary of the Wall Street collapse to call attention to the economic recovery.
“Now is not the time for victory laps,” Mr. McConnell said, “because if this is his idea of success, I’d hate to see what failure looks like. Today, nearly 8 million Americans who want full-time jobs can only find part-time work. That’s nearly twice as many involuntary part-timers as we had throughout most of the previous administration. And, of course, Obamacare will make this much worse.”
Mr. Obama addressed the shootings at the beginning of his remarks Monday before turning to his budget battle with the GOP.
White House press secretary Jay Carney said Republicans “are trying to make something of this,” but he rejected the argument that Mr. Obama should have postponed his remarks out of respect for the victims.
“It is a fact that we have very little time for Congress to act,” Mr. Carney said, adding that the economy “is a matter of central concern to the American people and to their elected representatives here in Washington.”