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Obama hammers Congress: Do your job


Updated 3:38 p.m. Eastern Time

President Obama offered some harsh words of members of Congress at his news conference Wednesday, saying, "At a certain point, they need to do their job."

Mr. Obama made the comments in reference to attempts to reach a deal to raise the debt ceiling, which the Obama administration says will be exceeded on August 2. Appearing exasperated, Mr. Obama negatively compared members to his daughters, 13-year-old Malia and 10-year-old Sasha, who he said "generally finish their homework a day ahead of time."

"They don't wait until the night before. They're not pulling all nighters," he said. "...You know, Congress can do the same thing."

President Barack Obama gestures during a news conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, June 29, 2011. AP Photo/Charles Dharapak

He went on to complain about Congressional Republicans' calls for him to get more involved in the negotiations, saying that he "met with every single caucus for an hour to an hour and a half each" and "met with the leaders multiple times."

"They need to do their job," he said. "Now's the time to go ahead and make the tough choices. That's why they're called leaders."

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He also called for members to "start having to cancel things and stay here" in Washington if there isn't "substantial progress" by the end of the week.

Mr. Obama then took aim at members for their frequent recesses, saying "they're in [session] one week, they're out one week."

"You need to be here," he said, directing his comments at members. "I've been here."

"I've been doing Afghanistan and bin Laden and the Greek crisis and" - he paused amid laughter from the press corps - "you stay here. Let's get it done."

"All right," he concluded. "I think you know my feelings about that."

The House of Representatives has been off eight weeks this year so far, reports CBS News Capitol Hill Correspondent Bob Fuss - including this week. It is scheduled to leave again the week of July 18. The Senate is scheduled to be out of session next week and recesses for one month starting August 6.

Senate Democrats plan to meet late Wednesday afternoon to consider cancelling next week's recessin the wake of the president's words.

Earlier in the press conference, Mr. Obama took aim at Republicans who said the government can still pay off its creditors if the debt limit is crossed, thus avoiding default, by choosing not to cover its other obligations.

"So are we really going to start paying interest to Chinese who hold treasuries and we're not going to pay folks their Social Security checks or we're not going to pay veterans for their disability checks?" he asked. "I mean, which bills -- which obligations are we going to say we don't have to pay?"

"These are bills that Congress ran up," he added. "The money's been spent. The obligations have been made."

He said Congress cannot simply say "we won't buy this car or we won't take this vacation."

"They took the vacation. They bought the car," he said. "And now they're saying, 'Maybe we don't have to pay, or we don't have to pay as fast as we said we were going to.' That's not how responsible families act, and we're the greatest nation on Earth and we can't act that way."

Following the press conference, CBS News' Bob Schieffer said the comments marked "about as hard as I've ever heard this president come down on the Congress."

"I mean, he said, look, if you don't make some significant progress by the end of the week, I'm going to ask you to stay in session over the 4th of July," continued Schieffer. "We'll see where that goes. But he was very tough. He was taking nothing."

CBS News' Nancy Cordes reported in the wake of the press conference that Congressional Republicans "were not moved by the president's words at all."

In fact, they insist they're not the ones holding up the debt limit deal, it is the president by refusing to act knowledge tax increases will not pass in the Senate or the House," she said.

In a statement after the press conference, House Speaker John Boehner said, "The President is sorely mistaken if he believes a bill to raise the debt ceiling and raise taxes would pass the House."

"The votes simply aren't there - and they aren't going to be there, because the American people know tax hikes destroy jobs," he added. "They also know Washington has been on a spending binge for many years, and they will only tolerate a debt limit increase if we stop it."

Earlier, Mr. Obama said the Republican position that they will not accept any tax increases as part of a deal to increase the debt limit is not "sustainable," adding, "everybody else has been willing to move off their maximalist position; they need to do the same." 

Obama: GOP position on debt limit not "sustainable"

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