President Barack Obama is demanding that Republican House Speaker John Boehner "stop this farce" and allow a vote on a spending bill to reopen the U.S. government.
With the shutdown about to enter its fourth day, Mr. Obama accused Boehner of catering to a small group of conservative Republican extremists who want to defund the president's health care program.
He said lawmakers cannot demand a ransom for keeping the government running and that the American people are not pawns in a political game.
The president has said a simple bill to fund the government with no other issues attached -- including Obamacare -- would pass the House of Representatives. But as House speaker, it is up to Boehner to decide what measures are put up for a vote.
Boehner says Mr. Obama is refusing to negotiate. The speaker says all he wants is a discussion on Obamacare and what he calls "fairness" for the American people.
Democrats say they will reject any Republican efforts to partially reopen the government.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told CNN television Thursday that Boehner reneged on a promise to allow a vote on a clean funding bill, even after Democrats agreed to accept Republican spending levels. Reid said Boehner is afraid Republicans would oust him as speaker. Reid reminded Boehner that the country is more important than his job.
The shutdown has furloughed more than 800,000 federal workers and closed down all but the most essential government services, including air traffic control, Border Patrol, and most food inspectors. The Voice of America is continuing to broadcast. But national parks and museums are closed, telephone calls for income tax help are unanswered, and some medical research projects are suspended.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:
"There will be no negotiations over this. The American people are not pawns in some political game. You do not get to demand some ransom in exchange for keeping the government running. You do not get to demand ransom in exchange for keeping the economy running. You don't get to demand ransom for doing your most basic job."
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:
"Send the bill to the floor. Let everybody vote. It will pass. Send me the bill. I will sign it. The shutdown will be over and we can get back to the business of governing and helping the American people."