President Barack Obama said he will refuse to negotiate with congressional Republicans over raising the nation’s debt ceiling or give in to their attempts to strip funding from his signature health-care law.
“Let me say as clearly as I can: it is not going to happen,” Obama said at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s annual awards dinner. “We will not negotiate over whether or not America should keep its word or meet its obligations.”
House Republicans are proposing to suspend the U.S. borrowing limit for one year tied to deficit reduction measures. They also plan to add to the measure a one-year delay of Obama’s health-care law.
Obama also said the work of those who fought for civil rights won’t be complete until everyone in the U.S. has the opportunity to work their way into the middle class.
The president cited his proposals to cut college costs, expand funding for pre-kindergarten education and raise the minimum wage. He also said the new health care law, his signature legislative victory, will help those struggling with medical costs to get insurance.
The 43rd annual dinner is the culmination of a four-day conference by the foundation. The theme was the “Spirit of 1963” to mark the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington at which Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his “I Have a Dream” address, which helped galvanize the civil rights movement of the 1960s.
The foundation also honored former President Bill Clinton, Democratic Representative Elijah Cummings of Maryland and Elaine Jones, the former president of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.
Members of the caucus were critical of the president’s record on appointment of minorities to his cabinet at the start of his second term and they have pressed him to address issues such as unemployment in the black community.