- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 5, 2013

With the federal shutdown headed toward its second week, President Obama on Saturday continued to pressure House Republicans to immediately pass a “clean” spending bill to get Washington back up and running.

In his weekly radio and internet address, the president read two letters he received from “Americans dealing with those real-world consequences” of the shutdown.

Mr. Obama, who was forced to cancel a trip to Asia and has seen other legislative priorities grind to a halt as Capitol Hill remains deadlocked, read the story of an Alabama woman who says her Head Start agency had to close its doors on Tuesday.

He also cited a North Dakota family in danger of losing its federal home loan as a result of the government closure.

Reciting such tales is Mr. Obama’s latest strategy to prod Congress to action.

“There’s only one way out of this reckless and damaging shutdown: pass a budget that funds our government, with no partisan strings attached,” the president said. “There are enough Republican and Democratic votes in the House of Representatives … to end this shutdown immediately. But the far right of the Republican party won’t let Speaker John Boehner give that bill a yes-or-no vote. Take that vote. Stop this farce. End this shutdown now.”

The White House in recent days increasingly has tried to turn House Republicans against each other, pitting moderate members against their tea party counterparts. The administration maintains that a “clean” spending bill — one that doesn’t include measures to repeal, delay or defund Obamacare — could pass the House with bipartisan support.

Thus far, however, Mr. Boehner hasn’t allowed such a bill to come up for a vote.

As the speaker and his Democratic counterparts search for a way out of the crisis — the first federal government shutdown in 17 years — Mr. Obama continues to ratchet up his rhetoric.

“The American people don’t get to demand ransom in exchange for doing their job. Neither does Congress,” he said. “They don’t get to hold our democracy or our economy hostage over a settled law. They don’t get to kick a child out of Head Start if I don’t agree to take her parents’ health insurance away. That’s not how our democracy is supposed to work.”

With the shutdown dragging on, Mr. Obama also is looking several weeks down the road, when the U.S. is expected to hit its “debt ceiling.” Analysts say the nation will reach its debt limit sometime in late October or early November, and the administration is warning that the economic damage from a default will be much worse than the current shutdown.

“For as reckless as a government shutdown is, an economic shutdown that comes with default would be dramatically worse,” Mr. Obama said.

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