WASHINGTON — Warning that a government shutdown would have “real effects on real people,” President Barack Obama urged House Republicans on Friday to pass a budget and save fights over the health care law for another day.
Speaking at the White House, the president accused the House GOP of trying to appease the tea party and said he would not negotiate about Obamacare to keep the government open.
“Do not threaten to burn the house down simply because you haven't gotten 100 percent of your way,” the president said. “That's not how our democracy is supposed to work.”
The president's remarks came shortly after the U.S. Senate rejected a House bill that would have kept the government open through Dec. 15 but denied funding for the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
The Democratic-controlled Senate stripped the language regarding Obamacare and sent the House a bill that would keep the government funded through Nov. 15.
Sens. Tom Coburn, R-Muskogee, and Jim Inhofe, R-Tulsa, split on a key vote over whether to cut off debate on the legislation. Coburn and 24 other Republicans voted along with Democrats to advance the bill. Inhofe voted to block the legislation.
Both voted against final passage of the legislation and against removing the language to defund Obamacare.
House Republicans now have to determine their next move in the fight, and they're running out of time. Most federal agencies will have to cease or curtail operations on Tuesday if Congress doesn't provide at least a temporary funding stream.
Rep. Tom Cole, R-Moore, a close ally of House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said Friday that he was still unsure what the House counteroffer would be.
“A lot depends on how stubborn people want to be,” said Cole, who has come out strongly against shutting down the government.
Cole said the speaker may propose something that would be a gateway to negotiations on all of the immediate fiscal problems facing Washington — the current budget, the need to raise the debt ceiling and a fix for the automatic budget cuts known as sequestration.
Sen. Ted Cruz, the Texas Republican who helped engineer the effort to defund Obamacare through the must-pass spending bill, said after the defeat that he hopes House Republicans continue to press a delay of Obamacare.
But Cole said, “We gave (Cruz) exactly what he wanted and the reality is he couldn't produce ... he couldn't even unify his own team.
“I think we have to look at what might move us in the right direction and still keep the government functioning.”
At the Pentagon, Defense Department comptroller James Hale said about 400,000 civilian employees — about half of the department workforce — may be furloughed if the government shuts down on Tuesday. Many of those who have to work won't be guaranteed that they'll be paid retroactively, he said.
Military personnel must report for regular duty, and their paychecks may be late, depending on how long any potential shutdown would last.
About 12,000 civilians who work at the aircraft repair depot at Tinker Air Force Base would not be subject to the furlough because they're paid from a business account rather than from direct appropriations from Congress.