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No End in Sight for US Government Shutdown

The stalemate over a partial U.S. government shutdown shows no signs of ending.

U.S. news media reported that Speaker John Boehner, leader of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, might try to craft a new path to end the four-day shutdown and increase the country's borrowing limit. He met Friday with his Republican colleagues.

But he emerged from the meeting with a renewed demand that the White House and congressional Democrats negotiate with them about major health care reforms taking effect in the country before they will agree to end the shutdown. The health reforms are the signature legislative achievement of U.S. President Barack Obama, and commonly called Obamacare. But the changes are staunchly opposed by conservative Republicans.

"The American people don't want their government shut down, and neither do I. All we're asking for is to sit down and have a discussion and to bring fairness, reopen the government, and bring fairness to the American people under Obamacare. It's as simple as that. But it all has to begin with a simple discussion."

Republican opponents of Mr. Obama, a Democrat in his fifth year as the American leader, have linked their efforts against the health law to legislation to fund much of the government, leading to the shutdown. Public surveys show voters more often blaming Republicans for the standoff.

So far, Mr. Obama and Democratic lawmakers have rejected bids to negotiate new policies on spending priorities and taxes until Republicans agree to end the shutdown that has forced 800,000 government workers to take unpaid furloughs and halted numerous government services.

Aside from the shutdown, Washington could run out of money to pay all its bills on October 17, when the United States reaches its current $16.7 trillion borrowing limit.

On Thursday, Mr. Obama chided Boehner for not allowing the House to vote on a measure to end the shutdown without attaching other Republican demands.

"There will be no negotiations over this. The American people are not pawns in some political game. You don't get to demand some ransom in exchange for keeping the government running. You don't get to demand ransom in exchange for keeping the economy running. You don't get to demand ransom for doing your most basic job."

One analyst, University of Michigan business professor Erik Gordon, told VOA he thinks in the end both Mr. Obama and his Republican opponents in Congress will have to compromise on their policy goals in order to end the shutdown and increase the country's borrowing limit.

"I think at the last minute there will be some compromise because neither side can afford to be seen by the public as being intransigent. So the Republicans will have to give up and say, OK, we'll settle for fewer tax cuts than we asked for and the president is going to have to say, I'm going to make some bigger reductions (in spending) than I said I would make, because neither side can afford to have the blame pinned on them. They will move together and learn to live with each other one more time."

For the time being, however, no one knows just when that will be.

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