Obama urges Congress to reopen government, avoid default

Reuters

WASHINGTON, Oct 7 (Reuters) - President Barack Obama, in avisit to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) onMonday to spotlight the loss of government services because ofthe shutdown, urged Congress to reopen government and raise thedebt limit immediately.

"My very strong suspicion is there are enough votes there"to pass legislation, he said. "Hold a vote. Call a vote rightnow. Let's see what happens."

FEMA had recalled employees who were idled in the shutdownto deal with Tropical Storm Karen but the storm has weakened andObama said the agency would now send about 100 of them home.

The federal government shut down most of its operations andidled all but its most essential workers Oct. 1 aftercongressional Republicans continued to make defunding ordelaying healthcare laws part of spending bills.

The country faces the possibility of a debt default iflawmakers do not raise the federal borrowing cap by Oct. 17.

Congressional Republicans have similarly insisted on WhiteHouse concessions for doing so, and Obama has said he would notnegotiate over raising the debt limit.

Obama said at FEMA that he would be happy to hold talks withcongressional Republicans on healthcare or other issues, but notunder the threat of shutdown or debt default.

A default would have "catastrophic impacts" on the U.S.economy, a White House official told reporters.

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