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Obama urges Republicans 'stop this farce'

US President Barack Obama has called on Republicans to vote to end the government shutdown. While the House of Representatives voted to pay workers whose salaries were withheld, the Pentagon recalled most of its staff.

Obama used his weekly radio address on Saturday to call on Republicans in the House of Representatives to end to the funding impasse.

"There's only one way out of this reckless and damaging shutdown. Pass a budget that funds our government, with no partisan strings attached," said Obama, adding that he believed there were enough votes in the House to do so.

"Take that vote. Stop this farce. End this shutdown now," he said.

The US government has closed all non-essential operations since Congress failed to approve funding ahead of a midnight deadline on Monday. The Republican-led House of Representatives has refused to approve a budget for the new financial year. Some delegates are pressing for a delay or watering down of Obama's signature healthcare reform legislation, the Affordable Care Act, as a condition of funding.

Republicans have also indicated they might not be prepared to raise the country's $16.7 trillion (22.6 trillion euros) debt ceiling, without which Washington might default on its debts. In his address, the president warned of the danger of such action.

"As reckless as a government shutdown is, an economic shutdown that comes with default, with America not paying its bills, would be dramatically worse," said the president.

Agreement on workers' pay

In a rare moment of consensus, the House of Representatives passed a bill by 407 votes to zero, to ensure that "furloughed" workers who have been told to stay at home will get paid.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon on Saturday said it was calling most of its 400,000 furloughed civilian employees back to work. The decision was taken after a legal review of the Pay Our Military Act, which was passed by Obama when the shutdown began.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said the review had determined that civilian workers could return to work if their "responsibilities contribute to the well-being, capabilities and readiness of covered military members."

rc/jr (AP, APF, dpa, Reuters)