Sept. 30, 2013— -- With a government shutdown just hours away, President Obama warned lawmakers today that a shutdown would "throw a wrench into the gears of our economy" and slammed House Republicans for failing to fulfill their basic responsibilities.
"The idea of putting the American people's hard-earned progress at risk is the height of irresponsibility, and it doesn't have to happen," the president said in a hastily announced appearance in the White House briefing room. "Let me repeat this. It does not have to happen."
House Republicans continue to insist they will not agree to a budget bill to keep the government operating without measures to delay or defund the president's signature health care legislation, something the Senate has repeatedly rejected.
"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," the president said of House Republicans. "You don't get to extract a ransom for doing your job, for doing what you're supposed to be doing anyway, or just because there's a law there that you don't like."
"I respect the fact that the other party is not supposed to agree with me a hundred percent of the time, just like I don't agree with them. But they do also expect that we don't bring the entire government to a halt or the entire economy to a halt just because of those differences," he said.
With the clock ticking, the president warned of the real-life economic impacts of a shutdown, cautioning that "office buildings would close. Paychecks would be delayed. Vital services that seniors and veterans, women and children, businesses and our economy depend on would be hamstrung."
Workers who would be furloughed would be "hurt greatly," Obama said. "And as a consequence all of us will be hurt greatly, should Congress choose to shut the people's government down."
"All of this is entirely preventable if the House chooses to do what the Senate has already done, and that's the simple act of funding our government without making extraneous and controversial demands in the process, the same way other Congresses have for more than 200 years," he said.
Moments later, the president met with his Cabinet at the White House to brace for the shutdown, which at this stage seems all but certain.
"We're going to be discussing the impacts, potentially, of a shutdown and how all these various agencies will be managing to make sure the core, essential functions continue, but also obviously to help try to manage what's going to be a very difficult potential situation for the employees of all these agencies who are doing outstanding and very difficult work all across the country," the president told reporters in the Cabinet Room.
"I appreciate all the members of the Cabinet who are here. They've been doing a lot of planning. I wish they were spending more time focusing on how to grow jobs and the economy as opposed to having to spend time figuring out how they manage a government shutdown," he added.
The president's comments came shortly before the House was expected to vote on yet another funding bill that contains a one-year delay of Obamacare's individual mandate and cancels subsidies for certain federal employees. The Senate is expected, once again, to reject any budget bill that guts Obamacare.