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    Obama, Congressional Leaders to Meet on Shutdown



    The House of Representatives is holding a series of votes on measures to partially reopen the U.S. government, ahead of a crucial White House meeting between congressional leaders and President Barack Obama.

    The House votes would restore funding to some parts of the government, while other services and offices stay closed. Even if the measures pass the Republican-led House, Senate Democrats likely will reject them.

    President Obama has invited House and Senate leaders from both parties for talks on how to end the govermment shutdown, which is about to enter its third day.

    Conservative House Republicans want to defund or delay the president's signature health care program and have attached it to the 2014 spending bill.

    But several other Republicans are now saying they would join Democrats in voting for a spending bill with no strings attached, which could end the shutdown.



    The government closed down all but essential services at midnight Monday. Nearly 1 million U.S. federal workers have been laid off and national parks and many federal agencies are closed. The government shutdown is not affecting Voice of America broadcasts, but it has closed Smithsonian museums and services like tax offices, help for veterans, and some food aid for the poor.

    The U.S. government shutdown also is forcing President Obama to cancel stops in Malyasia and the Philippines during his trip to Asia starting Saturday. But VOA White House correspondent Dan Robinson says Mr. 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.

    OPTIONAL SOUNDBITES:

    SENATOR BARBARA MIKULSKI, DEMOCRAT:
    "We call upon Speaker Boehner, let your members vote on the Senate legislation, "Yes or No." If you vote "Yes," we can move forward. If you vote, "No," let us take another look at it. Let us get the job done."

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