President Barack Obama took on House Republicans over the government shutdown again Thursday in a speech to a small Maryland construction company, saying House Speaker John Boehner should call for a vote on a spending bill that would allow Congress members to vote their concience.
"My simple message today is, call a vote...let every individual member of Congress make up their own minds," Obama said at M. Luis Construction in Rockville, Md.
"Take a vote," he said, "and end this shutdown right now."
"There will be no negotiation over this," Obama said later in the speech. "The American people are not pawns in some political game."
The speech, ostensibly about the impact of the shutdown on small businesses, was directed squarely at House Republicans. Early in the speech, Obama called the shutdown a "reckless Republican shutdown."
"The American people elected their representatives to make their lives easier, not harder," Obama said.
Boehner is preventing a vote on a funding bill because he doesn't want to anger "extremists" in his party, Obama said.
"You don't negotiate by putting a gun to the other persons' head, or worse, putting a gun to the American people's head," he said.
Obama also spent time looking ahead to the next anticipated showdown, on the government's debt limit. If the limit is not raised by Oct. 17, the U.S. government could default on its obligations, which could have enormous economic implications.
"As reckless as a government shutdown is, as many people are being hurt by a government shutdown, an economic shutdown that results from default would be worse," Obama said.
The longer the shutdown goes on, the worse the impact on the U.S. economy will be, he said.
The White House said the president gave the speech at M. Luis because it is an example of a company that has grown in recent years thanks to low interest rates.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said a prolonged government shutdown and the looming potential of a government default threaten the economy and would harm small businesses.
This is not the first time the construction company has been in the spotlight. In June, U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew kicked off National Small Business Week by touring the woman- and minority-owned business.
Founded in 1985 with the help of a $2.5 million small business loan from the state of Maryland, M. Luis does a large part of its business in asphalt and road construction.
M. Luis is the only minority and woman-owned asphalt manufacturer in the region.
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