Obama demands immediate vote in House on bill to fund US government
US President Barack Obama on Monday demanded the Republican-controlled House of Representatives vote immediately on a budget bill with no conditions attached, dpa reported.
Obama declared there are enough votes to pass the budget and end the partial government shutdown that enters a second week on Tuesday.
"There are enough Republican and Democratic votes in the House of Representatives right now to end this shutdown immediately with no partisan strings attached," Obama said. "The House should hold that vote today."
Speaker of the House John Boehner, a Republican, insisted Sunday there were not enough votes in the House to pass a bill without strings attached.
The bill would need 217 votes to pass. There are only 200 Democrats in the chamber, but Obama said is was his "very strong suspicion" that there are enough Republicans who would support the bill for passage.
"Hold a vote - call a vote right now, and let's see what happens," Obama said.
Boehner has accused Obama of refusing to negotiate on the president's signature piece of legislation - the health care reform that aims to provide health insurance to 39 million uninsured Americans.
Pushed by the far-right Tea Party faction, House Republicans have voted more than 40 times to revoke the law and want to extract concessions from Obama before adopting a budget. The reform was upheld earlier this year by the Supreme Court.
The Democratic-controlled Senate has rejected all attempts by the House to dismantle the health law, including the three attempts over the past 10 days to attach the issue to a short-term budget measure.
Obama said he was eager to talk with Republicans on a range of issues, but not under threat.
The president also urged Congress to raise the debt ceiling before the deadline on October 17, which would authorize the US Treasury to pay America's debts. The looming deadline has prompted warnings from US Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew and other top financial managers who said it would be catastrophic for the US and the world if the US government defaulted on its debts.
Obama spoke at the Federal Emergency Management Agency. FEMA's services are interrupted by the shutdown because 86 per cent of its employees are furloughed, Obama pointed out.
He praised 200 FEMA employees who came in to work without pay last week when a tropical storm threatened the US Gulf coast. About half of those workers have been sent home, but the rest have remained to help in the aftermath of other severe weather that has cause emergency situations in the US Midwest and upper Great Plains.