Obama slams threats to 'burn house'

President Obama on Friday implored House Republicans to fund the government, criticizing them for threatening "to burn the house down simply because you haven't gotten 100 percent of your way."

In comments from the White House press briefing room, Obama reiterated he would not negotiate on the debt ceiling or relent to GOP demands to delay or defund his healthcare law in exchange for funding the government. 


"My message to Congress is this: Do not shut down the government. Do not shut down the economy. Pass a budget on time. Pay our bills on time," Obama said. 

In what appeared to be a reference to Sen. Ted Cruz's (R-Texas) 21-hour floor speech on the healthcare law this week, Obama accused Republicans of grandstanding. 

"This grandstanding has real effects on real people," Obama said.

"It's not gonna happen," he declared of defunding or delaying ObamaCare.

A spokesman for Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) quickly responded that it was Obama who was grandstanding with the appearance, noting that the president had not attempted to call him all week.

"The House will take action that reflects the fundamental fact that Americans don’t want a government shutdown and they don’t want the train wreck that is Obamacare," Boehner spokesman Brendan Buck said. "Grandstanding from the president, who refuses to even be a part of the process, won’t bring Congress any closer to a resolution.”

But the White House dismissed that criticism, with spokesman Eric Shultz replying with a link to The Hill's report in January that Boehner declared himself done with private one-on-one negotiations with the president.

The government will shut down on Tuesday without a funding agreement, and Obama, Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) are not talking to each another. 

The Senate on Friday approved a stopgap spending measure that would keep the government open through Nov. 15 after stripping language from the measure that would defund ObamaCare.

Boehner has said that bill will not be approved by the House, but his next step is not clear. The House will be in session Saturday, and House Republicans are scheduled to meet at midday. 

Conservative members of the House have floated a proposal to attach a one-year delay of ObamaCare to the bill, which would then return to the Senate when passed.

Obama said that even if there is a shutdown, ObamaCare's insurance exchanges will open on schedule Oct. 1. 

"Those marketplaces will be open for business on Tuesday no matter what. Even if there's a government shutdown. That's a done deal," he said.

He asked Republicans to think about the real-world consequences of a shutdown, speaking of staff members in their offices and middle-class federal workers in their home districts who would go without pay.

He also called on Congress to raise the nation's $16.7 trillion debt ceiling before Oct. 17, when the Treasury Department says the U.S. will be close to running out of funds to pay its bills. 

Obama's remarks were confrontational, as he repeatedly depicted Republicans as hostage-takers demanding unprecedented concessions to keep the economy functioning.

"They would push the button, throw America into default for the first time in history and risk throwing us back into recession," Obama said.

"That's not how our democracy is supposed to work," Obama said, arguing that if he negotiated over the debt ceiling, it would set a crippling precedent.

Republicans have said that it is standard procedure to use the debt ceiling as leverage to obtain spending cuts, and they have criticized the administration's rhetoric. 

If lawmakers can't strike a budget agreement before the end of the month, the government would shut down for all nonessential services. Federal agencies, national parks, museums and passport offices would all shutter.

— This story was posted at 4:27 p.m. and updated at 5:03 p.m.