President Barack Obama said on Thursday that Americans are "completely fed up with Washington" a day after the latest fiscal crisis was narrowly averted and called for talks with Congress on the budget, immigration and farm legislation.
Hours after he signed into law a hastily arranged bill to end a 16-day government shutdown and head off a debt default, Obama said events over the past two weeks had inflicted "completely unnecessary" damage on the U.S. economy.
Obama, having emerged bruised but victorious from the latest in a string of fiscal stalemates in Washington, issued an aggressive challenge to Congress, particularly the Republican-controlled House of Representatives: Get to work with him on issues critical to improving the economy.
"Now that the government is re-opened and this threat to our economy is removed, all of us need to stop focusing on the lobbyists and the bloggers and the talking heads on radio and the professional activists who profit from conflict and focus on what the majority of Americans sent us here to do," he said.
Declaring that "the American people are completely fed up with Washington," Obama sought to tap into American disgust with Washington to advance his agenda and argue that after more than two weeks of shutdown, people have seen that the federal government is vital to their lives.
The agenda he laid out for the rest of the year appeared to presage more partisan combat. He called for House action on two major items that cleared the Democratic-controlled Senate earlier this year but collapsed in the House: an overhaul of the U.S. immigration system and passage of a $500 billion farm bill. Obama also renewed his plea for a "balanced approach" to the U.S. budget - language that means he wants to see some sources of new revenue in the budget such as closing corporate tax loopholes instead of simply enacting cuts in government spending.
House Republicans have ruled out tax increases.
"I understand we will not suddenly agree on everything now that the cloud of crisis has passed. Democrats and Republicans are far apart on a lot of issues," he said. "And sometimes we'll be just too far apart to forge an agreement. But that should not hold back our efforts in areas where we do agree."