Obama says government shutdown could rock global economy

President tells House Republicans to 'pay our bills on time'

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., second from right, walks to the Senate floor as the body prepared to conduct a series of budget spending votes.
Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

President Barack Obama said in a televised address Friday that Congress' failure to increase the government's borrowing authority would effectively shutter the global economy.

"We don't understand the dangers involved (in a government shutdown), because no Congress has ever threatened to default," Obama said, explaining that if the House of Representatives fails to approve a Senate-passed bill to solve the budget crisis by Monday, America's economic woes will take a toll "on the world economy." 

"America is the bedrock of world investment," Obama said. "The dollar is the reserve currency. That's why you don't fool with it." 

The Senate passed and sent its bill — which funds government operations from Oct. 1 to Nov. 15 to temporarily avert a government shutdown —  to the House of Representatives earlier Friday. In the bill, the Senate rejected defunding the Affordable Care Act (ACA), often called  "Obamacare" by opponents.

Republicans in the House, however, are considering attaching controversial items to this straightforward emergency funding bill, such as denying funds for the ACA for one year.

Obama accused Republican lawmakers of pandering to the tea party in their opposition to the health care act. 

"Do not threaten to burn the house down because you haven’t gotten 100 percent of your way," he said. "Pay our bills on time ... Refocus on the everyday concerns of the American people."

Obama took to Twitter earlier in the day to place the blame for what he called a pending return to recession squarely on the nation's lawmakers. 

"It's time Congress puts an end to governing from one manufactured crisis to the next. Tell them enough already," he wrote.

Such a move by the House could result in deadlock and shut down the federal government on Tuesday.  

It's not clear exactly how every government agency would be affected, but many would have to temporarily lay off workers.

Department of Defense Comptroller Robert F. Hale said at a press conference on Friday that the agency would be forced to furlough 400,000 of its 800,000 workers.

He said those who were deemed needed for emergency services and critical military actions – including soldiers in Afghanistan – would be allowed to continue working.  They would receive back-pay once the government shutdown ended.

But non-emergency personell would not be paid at all during the shutdown, he said. 

Al Jazeera and wire services

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