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Obama tells Republicans to ‘reopen govt’

Says won’t give in to Republicans’ reckless demands,summons Congress leaders.

Written by New York Times | Washington | Published: October 3, 2013 1:35 am

Jackie Calmes & Jeremy W Peters

President Obama admonished House Republicans on Tuesday to quit fighting his three-year-old health care law and to “reopen the government,” a show of defiance that reflected Democrats’ confidence that conservatives have overreached after years of budget battles with the White House.

“As long as I am president,I will not give in to reckless demands by some in the Republican Party to deny affordable health insurance to millions of hard-working Americans,” Obama said from the Rose Garden,flanked by new beneficiaries of the insurance program. Then,gesturing toward his guests,he added,“I want Republicans in Congress to know — these are the Americans you’d hurt if you were allowed to dismantle this law.”

The president’s televised appearance captured the split-screen nature of this first of October: It was the start of a new fiscal year,with the federal government largely shuttered because of the parties’ funding impasse,yet also the inaugural day for a central piece of the landmark health care law at the center of the budget standoff.

It was unclear how long the shutdown might go on,and no one in either party could say if Republicans would remain firm in their insistence that Democrats agree to significant changes to the health care law. But on the initial day of the first shutdown in nearly 18 years there was little business getting done in the House or the Senate other than photo opportunities and partisan speeches.

Republican,Representative Paul D Ryan of Wisconsin,the House Budget Committee chairman,indicated that the stalemate could go on for at least two more weeks until the nation reaches its borrowing limit. He said the deadline to address the debt limit,and avoid a default,could be “the forcing mechanism to bring the two parties together.”

Yet House Republicans also vow to oppose an increase in the debt ceiling unless Obama delays the health care law. On Tuesday night,Speaker John A Boehner and House Republicans tried to ease the effects of the shutdown and force Democrats into negotiation. The Republicans proposed three bills — to finance veterans’ programs,the National Park Service and federally run services in Washington — but because they introduced the measures under a fast-track procedural rule that required a two-thirds vote,each of them failed.

Meanwhile,the president has summoned leaders of Congress to the White House for an afternoon meeting Wednesday to urge the passage of measures financing the government and increasing the nation’s borrowing limit — without add-ons like a limitation on his health-insurance law. “The president will urge the House to pass the clean Continuing Resolution to reopen the government,and call on Congress to act to raise the debt ceiling,” an administration official said.

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