(WASHINGTON) — President Obama Monday warned that “if Republicans aren’t willing to set aside some of their partisan concerns in order to do what’s right for the country” and resolve the impasse over the government shutdown and the debt limit, “we stand a good chance of defaulting.”
“There has been some progress in the Senate. I think House Republicans continue to think that somehow they can extract concessions by keeping the government shutdown or by threatening default,” the president said. “My hope is that a spirit of cooperation will move us forward over the next few hours.”
The president spoke to reporters during a surprise visit to a local D.C. food pantry, where he met with furloughed workers who are volunteering.
“These are folks who have not been paid, in some cases are very eager to be back on the job but are not even allowed to work. And yet they’re here contributing and giving back to the community, and I think that shows the kind of spirit that we have among all kinds of federal workers all across the country — people who dedicate their lives to public service, think what they’re doing is important in terms of helping this country, and yet find themselves in which because of politics they’re not able to do their jobs,” the president said, as he stood in shirt-sleeves and an apron alongside volunteers assembling sandwiches.
Later Monday, the president is meeting at the White House with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and House Democratic Leader Pelosi, D-Calif.
“My hope is that the kind of sprit that is shown by all these outstanding volunteers is going to carry over into the meeting with the leadership this afternoon. They can solve this problem today,” he said.
“This is fairly simple and this whole shutdown has been completely unnecessary,” he said. “Keep in mind that the problem isn’t that the U.S. government has run out of money, the problem is not that our deficits are going up. Our deficits have actually been cut in half since I came into office and are continuing to go down. The problem is not that there is not the opportunity for us to work intelligently to come up with a budget that creates long term fiscal stability while still investing in growth. The problem is that we’ve seen this brinksmanship as a strategy time and time again to try to extract extreme or partisan concessions.”
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