Obama to Boehner: 'Hold a vote. Call a vote right now. Let's see - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Obama to Boehner: 'Hold a vote. Call a vote right now. Let's see what happens'

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By Carrie Dann, NBC News

President Barack Obama again pressured House Republicans to put a "clean" government spending bill up for a vote Monday, challenging House Speaker John Boehner's claim that the funding bill lacks sufficient support to pass. 

"My very strong suspicion is there are enough votes there" to pass the government funding legislation, he said during an unannounced stop at FEMA National Response Coordination Center in Washington, D.C. "Hold a vote. Call a vote right now. Let's see what happens.''

If Republicans and Speaker Boehner are saying there aren't enough votes, then they should prove it," he said. "Let the bill go to the floor and let's see what happens. Just vote." 

House Speaker John Boehner said on Sunday a funding bill that would reopen the government but would not make substantial changes to the president's health care law would not pass the GOP-dominated House. The administration – as well as numerous whip counts by media outlets, including NBC News – disputes that claim.

As the Senate came back into session after a Sunday recess, Senate Majority Harry Reid suggested that Boehner is "afraid" that the clean funding bill would pass.

"Are you afraid this measure will pass, the government will reopen and the American people will realize you took the country hostage for no apparent reason?" Reid said of Boehner. 

At the same time, Boehner took to the House floor to slam Obama for failing to "sit down and negotiate" to end the shutdown and debt ceiling impasses. 

"Mr. President, it's time to have that conversation before our economy is put further at risk," Boehner said. 

In the face of the GOP argument that Obama has refused to negotiate over ending the nearly week-long shutdown, Democrats insist that the "clean" bill already represents a compromise because it funds the government at lower levels than some liberals in Congress wanted. 

"The bill that is being presented to end the government shutdown reflects Republican priorities," Obama said during the stop at FEMA. "It is the Republican budget."

Boehner also said Sunday that the Republican-led lower chamber would not pass a measure to raise the debt ceiling without first negotiating additional measures to address causes of the nation's debt.

"I'm not going to raise the debt limit without a serious conversation about dealing with problems that are driving the debt up," Boehner said on ABC's This Week.

Obama reiterated Monday that he will not negotiate over the debt ceiling, saying "we can't threaten an economic catastrophe in the midst of budget negotiations.

Republicans immediately responded to the FEMA visit by urging Obama to green-light a piecemeal measure that would temporarily fund the agency during the shutdown. Senate Democrats have balked at talking up the piecemeal funding bills, and the president has threatened to veto them, saying the entire government should be reopened.

Obama said Monday that FEMA remains prepared for national disasters but "their job has been made more difficult" by the shutdown. He said that Florida and the nation's Atlantic coast "dodged a bullet" when a potential storm along the coast disappeared but that many FEMA workers called back from furlough to prepare for the storm will now be sent home again.

The stop was part of the administration's continuing effort to highlight the impact of the ongoing federal shutdown on government services. He visited a Maryland small business last week to speak about the shutdown's effects on the economy.

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