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US Shutdown Enters Week 2

  • VOA News

A partial U.S. government shutdown began its second week Tuesday with a vow from President Barack Obama that he will not negotiate on the shutdown or the country's debt ceiling while under threat from Republicans.

The president spoke Monday in Washington to workers at the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the government agency that handles disaster response and one of the numerous government offices forced to temporarily furlough employees.

Obama urged Republicans to drop what he calls their "ideological demands" and move beyond the "manufactured crisis" caused by the shutdown. He said Congress must pass a clean spending bill to reopen the government -- one with no issues attached -- before he will hold talks with Republicans on fiscal and budget issues.

Republican House Speaker John Boehner has said it is the president, not Republicans, who is risking economic catastrophe by refusing to talk.

Hundreds of thousands of government workers are still furloughed and many services are unavailable. The shutdown began when congressional Democrats refused to go along with Republican demands to defund the president's health care program.

Meanwhile, the United States is facing an October 17 deadline to increase its borrowing limit so that it does not default on its financial obligations. The country is running out of money to pay its bills, including interest on bonds held by China, Japan and other overseas investors.

China is warning that the "clock is ticking." Vice Finance Minister Zhu Guangyao said it is important for the United States to act quickly to protect more than $1 trillion in Chinese investments in the U.S., and the global economic recovery.

The White House has said it wants an increase in the debt ceiling big enough that it would not have to be raised again until late next year. However, spokesman Jay Carney said on Monday that the White House is not ruling anything in or out when Congress considers how long to raise the debt limit.

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