President Barack Obama is demanding that Republican House Speaker John Boehner "stop this farce" and allow a vote on a spending bill to reopen the U.S. government.
With the shutdown about to enter its fourth day, Obama accused Boehner of catering to a small group of conservative Republican extremists who want to defund the president's health care program, known as the Affordable Care Act.
He said lawmakers cannot demand a ransom for keeping the government running and that the American people are not pawns in a political game.
"There will be no negotiations over this. The American people are not pawns in some political game. You do not get to demand some ransom in exchange for keeping the government running. You do not get to demand ransom in exchange for keeping the economy running. You don't get to demand ransom for doing your most basic job," said President Obama.
The president has said a simple bill to fund the government with no other issues attached - including the measure - nicknamed Obamacare - would pass the House of Representatives. But as Speaker, it is up to Boehner to decide what measures are put up for a vote.
Boehner says Obama is refusing to negotiate. The Speaker says all he wants is a discussion on Obamacare and what he calls "fairness" for the American people.
Democrats say they will reject any Republican efforts to partially reopen the government. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says his party is "locked in tight" on Obamacare.
The shutdown has furloughed more than 800,000 federal workers and closed down all but the most essential government services, including air traffic control, Border Patrol, and most food inspectors. The Voice of America is continuing to broadcast. But national parks and museums are closed, telephone calls for income tax help are unanswered, and some medical research projects are suspended.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, has started recalling furloughed employees as Tropical Storm Karen approaches the Gulf coast. Forecasters say the storm could strengthen into a hurricane by Saturday.