Barack Obama has blamed Republicans on “an ideological crusade” for the shutdown of the US government.
He said they had forced an unnecessary budget crisis purely because they want to dismantle his health care programme.
Obama told reporters in the White House Rose Garden: “If you get cancer, you are 70 percent more likely to live another five years if you have insurance than if you don’t. Think about that. That is what it means to have health insurance.”
“This is life or death stuff. Tens of thousands of Americans die each year just because they don’t have health insurance. Millions more live with the fear that they’ll go broke if they get sick. And today we begin to free millions of our fellow Americans from that fear.”
Obama also urged lawmakers to vote to keep government operations running and raise the nation’s borrowing cap without conditions.
The Republican-controlled Congress and the Senate, where the Democrats have a majority, will have to reach an agreement to end the impasse.
So far, each has refused to budge on how to fund the government in the new fiscal year – which started on October 1.