WHITE HOUSE — U.S. President Barack Obama has harshly criticized the Republican-led House of Representatives for voting to repeal his 2010 health care law. The House vote could lead to a partial shutdown of the federal government.
The president spoke to auto workers Friday at a plant in Kansas City, Missouri, hours after the House voted to eliminate spending on the health care act, as part of a bill to keep the entire government running into December.
“I mean, I do not mind them disagreeing with me. [If] they do not like the Affordable Care Act, [if] they would rather have people not have health insurance, you know, I am happy to have that debate with them. But you do not have to threaten to blow the whole thing up just because you do not get your way,” said the president.
The House vote sends the bill to the Democratic-controlled Senate, where lawmakers are likely to remove the provision that defunds the measure known as Obamacare. If so, the Senate would then send the legislation back to the House, where Republicans would have a choice of passing it with health care funding intact or shutting down the government at the end of September.
After the House vote, the House Speaker John Boehner said the move reflected the will of the American people. “Our message to the United States Senate is real simple: The American people do not want the government shut down, and they do not want Obamacare.”
The latest public opinion survey by ABC News/Washington Post shows that 42 percent of Americans approve of the Affordable Care Act, while 52 percent oppose it.
Boehner called the health care act “a train wreck,” and said it would damage the economic recovery.
“At a time when the economy is barely eking along, wages are not increasing, new jobs are not available, and what are we doing? We are putting more cost and more inconvenience on the American people. It is time for us to say no.”
Republicans on Capitol Hill also are threatening to vote against raising the debt ceiling, the legal limit on the amount of money the U.S. government can borrow.
Obama said increasing the debt limit does not mean more spending. He said it would simply enable the government to continue to borrow to pay its bills.
“This is the United States of America. We are not some banana republic. This is not a deadbeat nation. We do not run out on our tab. We are the world’s bedrock investment. The entire world looks to us to make sure the world economy is stable. We cannot just not pay our bills. And even threatening something like that is the height of irresponsibility,” said Obama.
The president’s visit to Kansas City concluded a five-day series of speeches highlighting progress in strengthening the U.S. economy since the 2008 collapse of some financial firms.