President Obama on Thursday declared "no winners" in the government shutdown and debt-limit fight and scolded Republicans, urging Washington to change how it does business.
Obama tried to move past the gridlock which has gripped Washington and press an agenda he said would help bolster the economy in an address from the White House, delivered hours after he signed legislation to reopen the government and avoid a possible default.
The president said that after the 16-day shutdown and debate over raising the nation’s debt limit, it was no wonder the “American people are completely fed up with Washington” and accused Republicans of unnecessary economic brinksmanship.
“There are no winners here,” Obama said. “These last few weeks have inflicted completely unnecessary damage on our economy.”
“To all my friends in Congress, understand that how business is done in this town has to change,” the president added.
Obama highlighted three issues where he said he expects progress following the fiscal impasse.
The president called for a “responsible budget” that avoids draconian spending cuts, a renewed push for comprehensive immigration reform and the passage of a farm bill.
However, the high-stakes battle over the debt ceiling and government funding leaves those initiatives likely facing an uphill battle in polarized Washington.
Still, the president insisted that both Republicans and Democrats could come together on those big-ticket items.
“All of us need to stop focusing on the lobbyists and the bloggers and talking heads on radio,” Obama insisted from the State Dining Room in the White House.
“There’s no reason we can’t govern responsibly despite our differences,” he added.
Under the legislation Obama signed into law early Thursday, the U.S. is again expected to hit its borrowing limit around Feb. 7 and government funding will dry up on Jan. 15, setting the stage for yet another fiscal clash between both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue.
It remains unclear how Obama will achieve his policy goals with lawmakers bracing for yet another fight so soon. The fallout will surely have a carryover effect into the 2014 midterm elections — and on Obama’s presidential legacy.
With many Americans fed up by Washington, the president tried to strike a note of optimism.
“We’ll bounce back from this,” he insisted. “We always do.”
Obama closed his speech with a personal note of thanks to federal employees, many of whom returned to work for the first time this month.
“Thank you,” said the president.
“Thanks for your service. Welcome back,” he added. “What you do is important. It matters.”