U.S. President Barack Obama says shutting down the government is the height of irresponsibility and throws a wrench into the gears of a recovering economy.
The president Monday afternoon appealed to Congress to do its job and pass a spending bill. His appeal came just hours before a likely government shutdown at midnight in the absence of a bill to fund government spending.
Obama accused House Republicans who want to defund his health care program of appealing to the far-right faction of their party, and re-fighting the 2012 presidential election.
He said the entire country would feel the effects of a government shutdown -- not just federal employees who would not get paid, but citizens who rely on sometimes life-saving government services.
Earlier Monday, the Senate rejected a House spending bill that would have delayed implementing Obama's health care law. If the House does not approve a new bill without the health care provisions before midnight, the U.S. government will start closing down.
Obama stressed that his health care program is the law of the land -- passed by Congress, approved by voters and upheld by the Supreme Court. He says the law will be implemented Tuesday no matter what Congress does.
He rejected proposals to postpone Obamacare, saying it would just lead to another fight a few months from now.
Democrats say the health care law gives low income families and people without health insurance the chance to buy a low-cost, federally subsidized policy to prevent financial ruin in case of serious illness.
Republicans say the program is confusing and not ready. They also say the law hurts the economy by imposing more taxes and by forcing small businesses to provide coverage for their employees.