AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
Before the shooting this afternoon, President Obama used an appearance at a construction company in suburban Maryland to press Congress on both the government shutdown and the looming debt ceiling deadline. He warned that if the debt ceiling is not raised, the country would face an economic shutdown. President Obama again called on Republicans and specifically House Speaker John Boehner to act swiftly to end the government shutdown.
The president says that if Speaker Boehner would allow the House to vote on a clean bill to fund the government, it would pass.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: The only thing that is keeping the government shut down, the only thing preventing people from going back to work and basic research starting back up and farmers and small business owners getting their loans, the only thing that's preventing all that from happening, right now, today, in the next five minutes, is that Speaker John Boehner won't even let the bill get a yes or no vote because he doesn't want to anger the extremists in his party.
CORNISH: Earlier today, I spoke with Republican Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington State. She's chair of the House Republican Conference. I asked her what she thought of Obama's statement about a clean spending bill and if it had bipartisan support, why shouldn't it be brought before the House for an up or down vote.
REPRESENTATIVE CATHY MCMORRIS RODGERS: Because it doesn't solve the problem and it doesn't address the concerns that are on people's minds. The only thing that is keeping us in this shutdown is the refusal of the Senate Democrats, the president, to come to the negotiation table.
CORNISH: And you said it doesn't solve the problem. What did you mean by that?
RODGERS: Because it doesn't solve the problem that we hear from people that we represent all across this country and those are the concerns of out-of-control spending, the record deficits, the economy, the fact that this economy continues to be sluggish. It doesn't address the concerns over healthcare. I would say that the overwhelming number of Americans have voiced concerns over this law, would like to see it either repealed, defunded, they want us to be taking action that's going to protect them from a law that is unworkable, that is unaffordable.
CORNISH: But repeatedly this week, we've seen polls from CNN, the National Journal, Quinnipiac yesterday saying that by a margin of 72 to 22 percent, voters don't want Congress shutting down the federal government to block implementation of the Affordable Care Act. They don't want those two things linked.
RODGERS: The Republicans don't want to shut down the government and what you've seen us doing...
CORNISH: No. I didn't say shut down the government, but linking Affordable Care to the continuing resolution. That's what people don't want.
RODGERS: We need to get to the table. We need to negotiate and that is what we've been asking for from the House is for the Senate to come to the table, for the president to come to the table. The Republicans are working hard every day to open up the government. Yesterday, we voted on the legislation to open up our national parks, as well as fund NIH.
We need to start taking these steps and it's a way where we can come to the table, start finding some common ground and hopefully it will build so that we can address these larger issues related to spending, as well as address the concerns that people have over this healthcare law. And the only message that we've gotten from the president is that he's not willing to negotiate, but that's not a way forward.
CORNISH: Do you dispute his argument that there are the votes in the party for a clean resolution to pass?
RODGERS: What I see is that the Republicans are united in the House. We're united in this effort to get this negotiation done between the House and the Senate and the president and we believe that needs to happen.
CORNISH: So despite those calls from Republicans this week to have that up or down vote on a spending bill, you're saying you're united.
RODGERS: We are united. We have voted on numerous spending bills to keep the government open and that's going to remain our commitment. We're going to continue to work every day to get this government open as much as we possibly can.
CORNISH: Republican Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington State. She's chair of the House Republican Conference. Thank you for coming on the program and speaking with us.
RODGERS: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.