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Obama urges Congress to pass budget, raise debt ceiling

  • President Barack Obama arrives on the South Lawn of the White House on Friday, Sept. 20, 2013 in Washington.(AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

WASHINGTON: President Barack Obama on Saturday urged the US Congress to approve a budget to keep the government open after October 1, and raise the debt ceiling so the country can pay its bills.

Far-right Republicans in Congress want to take neither action in their attempt to defund a sweeping health care overhaul approved more than three years ago. Critics nicknamed the law "Obamacare," and Republicans have fought to repeal it since its passage.

If a budget "doesn't pass before September 30th - a week from Monday - the government will shut down," Obama said in his weekly Saturday morning broadcast address. "And so will many services the American people expect."

Obama warned that even soldiers serving abroad could see their paychecks stopped.

Congress must also raise the limit on government borrowing, as the US government is expected to run out of money by around the middle of October -- a scenario that could make stock markets tumble and send shockwaves through the global economy.

"Since the 1950s, Congress has always passed it, and every president has signed it - Democrats and Republicans," including conservative icon Ronald Reagan, Obama said.

"And if this Congress doesn't do it within the next few weeks, the United States will default on its obligations and put our entire economy at risk."

While Democrats and "some reasonable Republicans" are willing to take both actions,"there's also a faction on the far right of the Republican party who've convinced their leadership to threaten a government shutdown" and are "willing to plunge America into default" if they can't defund the health care program.

"The United States of America is not a deadbeat nation," Obama said. "We are the world's bedrock investment. And doing anything to threaten that is the height of irresponsibility.

"That's why I will not negotiate over the full faith and credit of the United States. I will not allow anyone to harm this country's reputation, or threaten to inflict economic pain on millions of our own people, just to make an ideological point."

Many federal agencies and programs will shutter on October 1, day one of the coming fiscal year, if Congress and the president do not agree on a temporary budget measure.

 
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