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Politics & Government

Obama's Lunchtime Message: Reopen Everything, Or Nothing

SCOTT HORSLEY, BYLINE: I'm Scott Horsley. President Obama took a rare trip outside the White House grounds on foot this afternoon. It wasn't because his driver's been furloughed. Aides say the president just wanted to enjoy the sunshine. He and Vice President Biden strolled about a block from the White House to a sandwich shop that's offering discounts and a free cookie to federal workers who've been idled by the shutdown.

Obama says that's a good example of the way the American people look out for each other.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: And right now, the House of Representatives has the opportunity to do the exact same thing.

HORSLEY: Obama says Republican House Speaker John Boehner could end the government shutdown today if he'd simply allow an up or down vote on a spending bill with no partisan strings attached. The White House is confident that bill would pass with Republican and Democratic support. The president also insists that lawmakers raise the federal debt limit without conditions in order to lift the threat of a default in just over two weeks.

OBAMA: Reopen the government, make sure we're paying our bills, two basic functions the Congress has, and take your cues from folks like this.

HORSLEY: Along with the other impacts of the shutdown, the president was forced to cancel a planned trip to Asia this weekend, where he hoped to promote U.S. exports. The Treasury Department also had to furlough most of the people who would ordinarily be enforcing economic sanctions against Iran. With some 800,000 federal workers idled by the shutdown, Obama disputed the idea this is a political winner for Democrats.

OBAMA: As long as they're off the job, nobody's winning. And that's the point. We should get this over with as soon as possible.

HORSLEY: Obama has threatened to veto any bill put forward by House Republicans that would reopen popular parts of the government while keeping others shut. The administration says that piecemeal approach is not a serious or responsible way to run the government, but the administration is recalling some previously furloughed FEMA employees to respond to a tropical storm approaching the Gulf Coast and to severe weather elsewhere in the country. Scott Horsley, NPR News, the White House. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.