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Democrats say it's time for GOP to unite, end shutdown

By Nedra Pickler

Associated Press

Published: Friday, Oct. 4 2013 11:31 a.m. MDT

President Barack Obama speaks about the government shutdown and debt ceiling during a visit to M. Luis Construction, which specializes in asphalt manufacturing, concrete paving, and roadway reconstruction, Thursday, Oct. 3, 2013, in Rockville, Md.

Charles Dharapak, Associated Press

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama decided to stay home from economic summits in Asia as Democrats stepped up pressure on congressional Republicans to rein in their tea party faction and reopen the government with no strings attached.

House Republicans said that with Congress and the president in town this weekend, now is the perfect time to start negotiating a plan to reopen the government.

"All I'm asking for is let's sit down, like the American people would expect us, and talk to one another about getting the government open and dealing with the significant problems that we face," House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, told reporters Friday.

GOP leaders said Friday the House will be in session Saturday so that Republicans can continue passing bills that would reopen selected parts of the federal government. The White House responded by issuing fresh veto threats Friday, saying Congress should reopen the entire federal government.

The Labor Department, meanwhile, did not issue the monthly employment report for September that was due Friday because of the shutdown.

The White House called the partial government shutdown that entered its fourth day Friday "completely avoidable" and complained the shutdown was interfering with the president's efforts to promote trade and U.S. influence in emerging world markets.

Democrats pointed to disagreements within the Republican Party, where reluctant congressional leaders were prodded into a showdown over government funding and Obama's health care law by rowdier conservatives, such as Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.

To get the government up and running again, "it will take some coming together on the Republican side," said the House's lead Democrat, Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California.

"It's very hard to negotiate with the Republicans when they can't negotiate with themselves," Pelosi said Friday.

Senate Chaplain Barry Black opened Friday's business with a plea for God to "give our lawmakers the vision and the willingness to see and to do your will."

"Remove from them that stubborn pride which imagines itself to be above and beyond criticism. Forgive them for the blunders they have committed, infusing them with the courage to admit and correct mistakes," Black said.

Obama criticized Boehner for not bringing up a vote to finance the full reopening of the government without conditions.

"Speaker John Boehner won't even let the bill get a yes-or-no vote, because he doesn't want to anger the extremists in his party. That's all. That's what this whole thing is about," Obama said Thursday at a campaign-style event at a Rockville, Md., construction company.

Boehner and other Republicans put the blame on Obama. They say he should recognize the flaws of "Obamacare" and negotiate solutions as part of a deal to end the shutdown that forced the furlough of some 800,000 workers, more than a third of federal civilian employees.

Boehner said Obama was being "irresponsible."

On Friday, the Republican-led House was keeping up a drive to finance certain agencies and programs on a piecemeal basis — a strategy rejected by Obama and the Democratic-led Senate.

"We are not picking winners and losers," said Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn. "I think what we are doing is exercising stewardship over the taxpayers' dollars. ...I'm ready to go to work today and get it done."

The House planned a vote to fund a popular program providing food aid to pregnant women and their children, as well as ongoing disaster relief.

Furloughed federal workers would get retroactive pay under a bill the House plans to vote on Saturday. Some top Democrats have supported that idea alongside Republicans.

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