Nightly News   |  October 05, 2013

House approves back pay bill

The House unanimously approved legislation to give retroactive pay to the furloughed government workers. NBC’s Kristen Welker reports.

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>>> the latest on the government shutdown now in its fifth day. while no agreement is in sight. hundreds of thousands of government employees will be going back to work. we get that story from kristen welker.

>> in a surprise announcement today, defense secretary chuck hagel said that he would bring back to work almost all of the 400,000 civilian defense department employees who were furloughed. in a statement hagel said a law signed by president obama last week which assures military personnel get paid during the shutdown also allows for civilian employees who contribute to the morale, well-being, capabilities and readiness of service members.

>> we can vote to open the government today.

>> reporter: meanwhile, during an interview with the associated press, president obama continued to put the blame squarely on house republicans and called for a vote to reopen the government with no strings attached.

>> the only thing that is keeping that from happening is speaker boehner has made a decision that he's going to hold out to see if he can get additional concessions from us.

>> reporter: those concessions, conservatives are fighting to delay the president's health care law . meanwhile, in a rare saturday session of congress, the house voted unanimously to give retroactive pay to the 800,000 government workers who are currently off the job, but with no signs of a deal, the fingerpointing continued.

>> if the president has an ax to grind with the opposing party, why he would want to put the american people in the middle of that.

>> if crisis could be over in hours if the speaker and the republicans would just take yes for an answer.

>> reporter: and fears are mounting as another deadline looms. october 17th . that's when the nation hits its debt ceiling and running out of money to pay its bills. president obama tried to tamp down those concerns.

>> i'm willing to bet there are enough votes in the house of representatives to make sure the united states doesn't end up being a deadbeat.

>> reporter: earlier this week house speaker john boehner told his caucus he wouldn't allow a default. still there is a lot of uncertainty.

>> the speaker is caught in a vise grip and knowing if he doesn't move he and his party could be directly responsible for inflicting serious harm on the country.

>> reporter: president obama also talked to the associated press about his health care law . and he urged americans not to give up after there were some glitches after this week's initial online enrollment process.