- (Photo: Reuters)
As the political impasse continued Friday, House Speaker John Boehner blasted the White House, saying the shutdown "isn't some damn game." He was responding to an anonymous official's statement that Obama administration is "winning" the debate and it doesn't matter how long the shutdown lasts.
"This isn't some damn game. The American people don't want their government shut down and neither do I," Boehner (R-Ohio) said at a news conference Friday. "All we're asking for is to sit down and have a discussion and to bring fairness – reopen the government and bring fairness to the American people under Obamacare. It's as simple as that. But it all has to begin with a simple discussion."
Boehner was referring to an article in Wall Street Journal, which quoted a senior administration official as saying, "We are winning. ... It doesn't really matter to us" how long the shutdown lasts "because what matters is the end result."
The White House sought to distance itself from the official's statement.
Press secretary Jay Carney responded to Boehner's statement on Twitter. "@SpeakerBoehner It's no game, Mr. Speaker. So why deny the House a vote on clean CR? Many R's will vote yes & govt will open," he wrote.
On the official's quote to Wall Street Journal, Carney tweeted, "We utterly disavow the idea WH doesn't care when it ends." He also wrote, "House should act now, no strings attached. #JustVote."
On Thursday, the president blame the shutdown on Boehner. "I want everybody to understand this: There are [enough] Republicans and Democrats in the House of Representatives today, that if the speaker of the House, John Boehner, simply let the bill get on the floor for an up-or-down vote, every congressman could vote their conscience, the shutdown would end today," he said in his speech at M. Luis Construction in Rockville, Md.
"The only thing that is keeping the government shut down, the only thing preventing people from going back to work and basic research starting back up and farmers and small business owners getting their loans, the only thing that's preventing all that from happening, right now, today, in the next five minutes is that Speaker John Boehner won't even let the bill get a yes-or-no vote because he doesn't want to anger the extremists in his party," Obama added. "That's all. That's what this whole thing is about."
While Obama remains unwilling to negotiate with Republicans over the government shutdown or the upcoming battle over the debt ceiling, the House plans to vote Saturday on a bill to provide for backdated pay for furloughed federal workers, according to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.).
The shutdown that began Tuesday left more than 800,000 federal workers on furlough and closed down museums and national parks temporarily.
House Republican leaders says "Obamacare," or the president's signature health care law, should be delayed or defunded before the House passes the bill to continue to fund the government. The president and Democrats in Congress, on the other hand, insist there should be no strings attached to the government funding measure.
It is being feared that the standoff over the shutdown would further intensify the fight expected over the debt-ceiling, which must be raised by Oct. 17 to avoid a potential default on the U.S. debt.