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US Shutdown Enters Third Day

  • VOA News

A partial U.S. government shutdown has entered its third day Thursday with no end to the deadlock in sight.

U.S. congressional leaders met for about an hour late Wednesday with President Obama, but they emerged from the closed-door session with no progress on the budget impasse that triggered the shutdown.

House Speaker John Boehner said Obama told him he will not negotiate a deal to reopen the government. Boehner said he told the president he wants a discussion of what he referred to as the "fairness" of Obama's signature health care program, the Affordable Care Act.

Republicans have wanted to tie funding the government to a delay or defunding of the health care program.

Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid said Democrats are happy to talk to the Republicans about anything they want, but only if a spending bill is passed and the government shutdown ends.

The White House called Wednesday's meeting useful and said the president is glad it took place. However, before the talks, Obama told CNBC that he has "bent over backwards" to work with the Republicans. He said he is exasperated, calling the government shutdown totally unnecessary.

The U.S. government shut down at midnight Monday after Democrats refused to pass Republican spending bills that would defund or postpone the health care program.

Obama said no president can govern effectively if he allows extremists from either party to extort concessions. He appealed to Speaker Boehner to bring a "clean" spending bill, one that funded the government without any conditions related to the health care reform law, to the House floor for a vote.

The shutdown has furloughed more than 800,000 federal workers and closed national parks and many federal agencies. The shutdown is not affecting Voice of America broadcasts, but it has closed the Smithsonian museums and services like tax offices, help for veterans, and some food aid for the poor.

The government shutdown is also forcing Obama to cancel stops in Malaysia and the Philippines during his trip to Asia, which starts Saturday. VOA White House correspondent Dan Robinson reports that Obama still plans to visit Indonesia and Brunei for the APEC and East Asia summits.

Implementation of the Affordable Care Act, nicknamed "Obamacare," went ahead as scheduled Tuesday. It is intended to provide health insurance coverage to millions of Americans who otherwise cannot afford or get coverage.

Republican opponents of Obamacare say it forces people, including small businesses, to buy expensive insurance policies against their will, hurting the economy.

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