U.S. President Barack Obama on Friday called on Republicans in the House of Representatives to stop "political grandstanding" and pass legislation to avoid a looming government shutdown without cuts to his health-care law or other conditions. 

"Over the next three days, House Republicans will have to decide whether to join the Senate and keep the government open or shut it down because they can't get their way on an issue that has nothing to do with deficit," Obama said in a statement to reporters at the White House.

"I realize that a lot of what's taking place right now is political grandstanding, but this grandstanding has real effects on real people," Obama said.

Debt ceiling looms

Oct. 1 marks the start of a new budget year in the U.S. and requires Congress to pass a spending bill to allow agencies to stay open. Another deadline ­— estimated at Oct. 17 — will require Congress to increase the government's $16.7-trillion debt ceiling to avoid a first-ever default on its payments. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

The debt ceiling is the legal limit on how much debt a government is allowed to accumulate. Most countries let their debts rise automatically when government spending outpaces tax revenue. 

U.S. presidents have a long history of seeking to raise the ceiling, and Washington faces a looming fiscal deadline. Oct. 1 marks the start of a new budget year in the U.S. and requires Congress to pass a spending bill to allow agencies to stay open. Another deadline ­— estimated at Oct. 17 — will require Congress to increase the government's $16.7-trillion debt ceiling to avoid a first-ever default on its payments.