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White House Invites Congressional Leaders to Discuss Ending Shutdown

  • VOA News

File - Speaker of the House John Boehner (L) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid

File - Speaker of the House John Boehner (L) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid

The White House says President Barack Obama has invited congressional leaders to the White House late Wednesday to discuss ending the government shutdown, as some Republicans in the House of Representatives seemed willing to break the standoff over the president's signature health care law.

Several House Republicans say they would join with Democrats to support a Senate spending bill that would end the U.S. government shutdown with no strings attached.

Republicans in the House of Representatives have tied government funding to a delay or defunding of the health care program.

But the Democratic-controlled Senate rejected the House proposals and the shutdown went into effect early Tuesday after the deadline to extend federal funding passed.

Meanwhile the U.S. government shutdown has forced President Barack Obama to cancel two stops on his upcoming trip to Asia. On the second day of the shutdown, the White House said Obama is cutting his planned visits to Malaysia and the Philippines.

VOA White House Correspondent Dan Robinson says the president still plans to make his first two stops, in Indonesia and Brunei, to attend the APEC and East Asia Summits.

"There is a lot at stake for President Obama," said Robinson. "He did not go to the APEC summit in 2012. He was represented there by Secretary of State, then Secretary of State Clinton. So it is really important for a U.S. leader, given the whole Asia-pivot on economic and military security, the Asia pivot strategy, to show up at these meetings."

Obama was originally due to leave the United States on Saturday and return a week later.

The shutdown went into effect early Tuesday after lawmakers missed a deadline to extend federal funding.


Shutdown day 2


How The Shutdown is Affecting Services

  • About 800,000 federal workers furloughed
  • The military's 1.4 million active-duty personnel remain on duty, their paychecks delayed
  • NASA is furloughing almost all its employees
  • Air traffic controllers and screeners staying on the job
  • Federal courts continue to operate
  • Mail deliveries continue since U.S. Postal Service is not funded by tax dollars
  • Most Homeland Security employees continue to work
  • Most veterans' services continue because they are funded in advance
  • National Parks and Smithsonian museums closing
Republicans in the House of Representatives wanted to tie funding to a delay or defunding of President Obama's signature health care law, the Affordable Care Act.

Each attempt was turned back by the Democratic-controlled Senate, which must also agree to budget legislation.

Some 800,000 U.S. federal workers face a second day of furlough Wednesday as the shutdown keeps national parks and many federal agencies shuttered.

A Quinnipiac University poll indicated some 72 percent of American voters oppose the shutdown. A Reuters/Ipsos poll indicated that 24 percent of Americans blamed Republicans, while 19 percent blamed Obama or Democrats. Another 46 percent said everyone was to blame.


Partial funding measures rejected

On Tuesday, the House rejected three separate measures that would have funded parts of the federal government. The Republican-proposed bills to reopen national parks and museums, fund veterans' services and the city of Washington, D.C. failed to get the required two-thirds support.

Security officer Jarvis Landlum holds a sign informing people on the government shutdown of Alcatraz Island, a tourist attraction operated by the National Park Service, in San Francisco, California Oct. 1, 2013.

Security officer Jarvis Landlum holds a sign informing people on the government shutdown of Alcatraz Island, a tourist attraction operated by the National Park Service, in San Francisco, California Oct. 1, 2013.

Even if they had passed, the White House said it would veto any partial government reopening. Spokesman Jay Carney said attempts to fund some operations while leaving others closed shows an utter lack of seriousness on the part of Republicans.

House Democrats criticized Republicans for worrying about public parks instead of programs to feed children. Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi likened it to kidnappers freeing just one hostage at a time.

'Obamacare' begins

A Tea Party member reaches for a pamphlet titled "The Impact of Obamacare", at a Tea Party Rally in Littleton, New Hampshire, Oct. 27, 2012

A Tea Party member reaches for a pamphlet titled "The Impact of Obamacare", at a Tea Party Rally in Littleton, New Hampshire, Oct. 27, 2012

Implementation of the Affordable Care Act -- nicknamed "Obamacare" by its opponents -- went ahead as scheduled Tuesday

Obama has said Republicans opposed to the plan want to deny affordable health insurance to millions of Americans

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

The current government shutdown is not affecting Voice of America broadcasts, but it has closed parks and museums, as well as services such as federal tax offices, help for veterans, and food aid for the poor. Most civilian employees at the Pentagon must stay home, although the U.S. military remains on duty. The U.S. space agency, NASA, is almost entirely shut down, and U.S. military cemeteries overseas are closed. Other federal workers are staying on the job with no guarantee when they will be paid.

Financial Markets React

Investors on Wednesday appeared to show growing anxiety on over the standoff after taking the news in stride on Tuesday, with Wall Street opening lower and the U.S. dollar continuing to fall.

The U.S. Treasury has also been forced to pay the highest interest rate in about 10 months on its short-term debt as many investors avoided bonds that would be due later this month, when the government is due to exhaust its borrowing capacity.

A short-term shutdown would slow U.S. economic growth by about 0.2 percentage points, Goldman Sachs said on Wednesday, but a weeks-long disruption could weigh more heavily - 0.4 percentage points - as furloughed workers scale back personal spending.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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