WASHINGTON, Oct. 5 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama Saturday called the federal shutdown a "farce," urging Congress to pass a budget, "pay our bills" and avoid "an economic shutdown."
In his weekly radio and Internet address, the president -- as he has done on several occasions this week -- blamed Republicans for the government shutdown that began Tuesday in the absence of congressional authorization for spending beyond Sept. 30.
He used much of the address to, as he put it, "let the Americans dealing with those real-world consequences [of the shutdown] have their say. And these are just a few of the many heartbreaking letters I've gotten from them in the past couple weeks -- including more than 30,000 over the past few days."
He read from a letter in which Kelly Mumper -- who lives in rural Alabama, works in early education and has three children in the U.S. Marines -- expressed concern over the furlough of 175 people and the cut-off of services for 770 children because the local Head Start agency was shut down.
"I am extremely concerned for the welfare of these children," Mumper wrote. "There are parents who work and who attend school. Where are they leaving their children ... is it a safe environment ... are [they] getting the food that they receive at their Head Start program?"
Julia Pruden of Minot, N.D., wrote the president that she and her special-needs children have put in an offer on a home that meets their needs but "if funding does not go through, our chances of the American Dream [are] down the drain."
"These are our fellow Americans," Obama said. "These are the people who sent us here to serve. And I know that Republicans in the House of Representatives are hearing the same kinds of stories, too."
The president said, as he has said multiple times this week, "there's only one way out of this reckless and damaging shutdown: pass a budget that funds our government, with no partisan strings attached."
He noted the Senate has already passed a budget and "there are enough Republican and Democratic votes in the House of Representatives willing to do the same, and end this shutdown immediately. But the far right of the Republican Party won't let Speaker John Boehner give that bill a yes-or-no vote."
"Take that vote," Obama said. "Stop this farce. End this shutdown now."
He said he is willing to "work with anyone of either party on ways to grow this economy, create new jobs, and get our fiscal house in order for the long haul. But not under the shadow of these threats to our economy."
"Pass a budget," Obama said. "End this government shutdown.
"Pay our bills. Prevent an economic shutdown."