The Washington Post

At Congressional Black Caucus gala, Obama focuses on health care and gun control

At the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation gala on Saturday, President Barack Obama discussed higher education costs. (AP)

A combative President Obama reiterated Saturday night that he refuses to negotiate with Congress over funding for his signature health-care law and warned that Republican lawmakers are threatening to plunge the nation back into a painful recession.

In a fiery speech at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation gala, Obama also renewed his push for sweeping new restrictions on firearms purchases. The president cited the recent rash of deadly shootings in his home town of Chicago, as well as Monday’s rampage at Washington’s Navy Yard, and exhorted lawmakers, “We’ve got to get back up and go back at it.”

Obama continued to blast House Republicans, charging that their “top agenda” was depriving millions of Americans of health-care coverage. On Friday, the House passed a plan that would avert a government shutdown and keep the government operating through mid-December but would also strip funding for the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare.

“It is not going to happen,” Obama said of the defunding measure. “We have come too far. We’ve overcome far darker threats than those.”

Obama also repeated his pledge not to negotiate over raising the government’s debt ceiling, saying America is obligated to pay its bills. Of House Republicans, he said, “it’s time for these folks to stop governing by crisis.”

At the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation gala on Saturday, President Barack Obama discussed the Affordable Care Act and the looming threat of a government shutdown. (AP)

Obama’s speech came at the CBC Foundation’s annual awards dinner, which paid tribute to the March on Washington that was led 50 years ago by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Obama invoked King’s legacy and said that, five years into his presidency, “I am still fired up because I still see the work that needs to be done.”

Obama lamented that the unemployment rate for black Americans remains twice the rate for white Americans. He said he wants to improve the nation’s schools and increase the minimum wage, so that no working adult has to raise a child in poverty.

“We’ve got to pick up the torch of economic justice,” Obama said.

Obama spoke for the first time about the recent shootings in Chicago. He noted Saturday that just two days earlier, 13 people were shot during a pickup basketball game, including a 3-year-old girl. He linked the tragedy to the Navy Yard rampage — which Obama will address at a memorial service on Sunday — as well as mass shootings in Newtown, Conn., Aurora, Colo., and Tucson.

Across the country, people are being killed by gun violence every day, Obama said, “without headlines sometimes or public outcry.” Referring to his so far unsuccessful push for gun-control legislation, Obama continued, “We fought a good fight earlier this year, but we came up short, and that means we’ve got to get back up and go back at it.”

Philip Rucker is a national political correspondent for The Washington Post, where he has reported since 2005.

The Freddie Gray case

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Campaign 2016 Email Updates

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Get Zika news by email

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!
Comments
Show Comments
Republicans debated Saturday night. The South Carolina GOP primary and the Nevada Democratic caucuses are next on Feb. 20. Get caught up on the race.
The Post's Dan Balz says...
Rarely has the division between Trump and party elites been more apparent. Trump trashed one of the most revered families in Republican politics and made a bet that standing his ground is better than backing down. Drawing boos from the audience, Trump did not flinch. But whether he will be punished or rewarded by voters was the unanswerable question.
GOP candidates react to Justice Scalia's death
Quoted
I don't know how he knows what I said on Univision because he doesn't speak Spanish.
Sen. Marco Rubio, attacking Sen. Ted Cruz in Saturday night's very heated GOP debate in South Carolina. Soon after, Cruz went on a tirade in Spanish.
The Fix asks The State's political reporter where the most important region of the state is.
The State's Andy Shain says he could talk about Charleston, which represents a little bit of everything the state has to offer from evangelicals to libertarians, and where Ted Cruz is raising more money than anywhere else. In a twist, Marco Rubio is drawing strong financial support from more socially conservative Upstate. That said, Donald Trump is bursting all the conventional wisdom in the state. So maybe the better answer to this question is, "Wherever Trump is."
Past South Carolina GOP primary winners
South Carolina polling averages
Donald Trump leads in the first state in the South to vote, where he faces rivals Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio.
South Carolina polling averages
The S.C. Democratic primary is Feb. 27. Clinton has a significant lead in the state, whose primary falls one week after the party's Nevada caucuses.
62% 33%
The complicated upcoming voting schedule
Feb. 20

Democrats caucus in Nevada; Republicans hold a primary in South Carolina.

Feb. 23

Republicans caucus in Nevada.

Feb. 27

Democrats hold a primary in South Carolina.

Upcoming debates
Feb 25: GOP debate

on CNN, in Houston, Texas

March 3: GOP debate

on Fox News, in Detroit, Mich.

March 6: Democratic debate

on CNN, in Flint, Mich.

Campaign 2016
Where the race stands

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.