President Obama accused Republicans Monday of playing games with the federal budget, warning them that threatening a government shutdown over funding for Planned Parenthood or ObamaCare would be “completely irresponsible.”
Speaking at a Labor Day event in Boston, Obama said Congress should work to approve federal spending bills that end across-the-board funding cuts rather than wage policy battles over healthcare that could risk a shutdown at the end of the month.
“So far, at least, instead of hearing about how we can move together, what we’re hearing from [Republicans] is threats that they might shut down the government over things that don’t have anything to do with the budget,” he said. “Try to stop the budget in order to force us to do something that would restrict women’s healthcare, for example. That’s not a good idea.”
When Congress returns this week, Republicans are expected to launch an assault on federal funding for Planned Parenthood in light of undercover videos accusing it of illegal activity.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said last week that the Senate will vote on defunding the group when lawmakers return, though he acknowledged Obama is likely to veto such a bill if it were to pass. Democrats have said Republicans risk another government shutdown if they push the issue too far.
Obama also needled Republicans for forcing votes to undo ObamaCare, a failed effort that lead to the 2013 government shutdown.
“Everybody says it’s working,” Obama said. “It’s working better than even I expected, and costing less, and they’re still talking about repealing.”
Obama plugged the state of the U.S. economy, saying it’s performing better than in other parts of the world and warning that a shutdown could threaten that status.
He compared a potential shutdown to an “unforced error,” and made reference to the infamous Bill Buckner error that helped cost the Boston Red Sox the World Series in 1986.
“It’d be like a ground ball slipping through somebody’s legs,” Obama said, cheekily, to groans from the Boston crowd.