"You can't ask those Republicans to just put their political life on the line for nothing," he said. "They've got to be able to go home and say 'These are the things that I was able to do.'"
Even the Senate chaplain got drawn into the rising intensity of the partisan battle, opening Thursday's session with an unusually pointed prayer.
"Deliver us from the hypocrisy of attempting to sound reasonable while being unreasonable," said Dr. Barry Black. "Remove the burdens of those who are the collateral damage of this government shutdown."
And in a bit of sardonic understatement, Obama's motorcade passed workers outside an office building holding up a sign that simply asked, "Rough week?"