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Obama: Shutdown hurts government operations

3:53 PM, Oct 7, 2013   |    comments
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(USA TODAY) -- President Obama said Monday he is "eager and ready" to negotiate with Republicans on the budget and other issues, but not until the House GOP votes to reopen the government and increase the debt ceiling.

"I'm happy to talk to Republicans about anything related to the budget," Obama said during a visit to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, where he took his campaign against the shutdown, which is in its seventh day.

Though about 200 FEMA staff members were recalled from furlough - some without pay - to prepare for Tropical Storm Karen in the Gulf of Mexico, at least 100 of them will have to be refurloughed, Obama said.

"They are having to, under less than optimal situations, still respond to Mother Nature, which doesn't stop just because the government has shut down," Obama said as he praised the FEMA employees.

Noting that Tropical Storm Karen dissipated, Obama said, "We dodged a bullet there."

STORY: Shutdown enters second week, no end in sight

Obama again called on the Republican-run House to pass a spending plan and raise the debt ceiling with no conditions.

Congress must raise the $16.7 trillion debt ceiling before the government hits it Oct. 17. Otherwise, Obama said, the government will have to default on its debts.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and other Republicans want to negotiate provisions to a spending and a debt ceiling bill, including a one-year delay in Obama's health care plan.

In a statement, Boehner said that "the president's refusal to negotiate is hurting our economy and putting our country at risk."

During his visit to FEMA, Obama again called on Boehner to put a "clean" spending bill on the House floor, predicting it would pass.

Boehner spokesman Brendan Buck noted that the House passed a limited bill that would have restored FEMA funding, but Obama threatened to veto it, and the Democratic-run Senate defeated it.

The FEMA visit was an addition to the schedule for Obama, who was supposed to be in Indonesia on Monday for an Asian economic summit.

Obama canceled a week-long trip to Asia because of the shutdown.

First Coast News

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