World News

    Obama Says He Expects Congress Will Increase US Borrowing Limit

    U.S. President Barack Obama says he does not think Congress will breach a mid-October deadline to increase the country's borrowing limit so the United States does not default on its financial obligations.

    With the U.S. government in the fifth day of a partial shutdown, it also faces running out of money to pay its bills on October 17, including interest on government bonds held by China, Japan and other overseas investors.

    In a wide-ranging interview with the Associated Press released Saturday, Mr. Obama said he expects Congress will increase the country's $16.7 trillion debt ceiling so the United States can borrow more money.

    Mr. Obama, a Democrat in his fifth year as the American leader, is locked in a political stalemate with Republican opponents in Congress over government spending policies and implementation of his signature legislative achievement, wide-ranging health care changes that are now taking effect.

    The president said he is willing to negotiate changes to the health law and reduce spending, but not until Congress agrees to end the shutdown and raises the debt ceiling without conditions. Republicans opposed to the health care reforms, commonly known in the U.S. as Obamacare, are trying to end funding for it, or delay it, and called for negotiations in advance of reopening the government.

    About 800,000 federal workers have been furloughed during the shutdown, halting numerous government services.

    The U.S., with the world's biggest economy, has never defaulted on its debt, and most analysts do not expect it will this time either. A protracted congressional debate in 2011 over increasing the borrowing limit roiled international financial markets and slowed the U.S. economy, and some fear that could occur again in the next two weeks.

    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry warned that a prolonged political crisis in Washington could weaken the U.S. globally, although ultimately he said he does not think that will happen.



    Kerry said if the partial government shutdown "were prolonged or repeated," people would begin to question the country's ability to "stay the course."

    Speaking at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum (at Nusa Dua) on the island of Bali in Indonesia, Kerry called the U.S. government shutdown a "momentary episode."

    In Washington, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives is again set to consider piecemeal funding for individual agencies, but the Democratic-run Senate has rebuffed the effort and called for overall funding legislation to reopen the government.

    Mr. Obama tried to highlight the impact on furloughed workers Friday by visiting a local sandwich shop that was offering discounts to out-of-work government employees. Before ordering lunch for himself and Vice President Joe Biden, Mr. Obama urged Speaker John Boehner, leader of the Republican-controlled House, to allow a vote on a bill to reopen the government without conditions.

    Until now, Republicans have been unwilling to approve a budget unless it amends or delays the health care changes.



    "This shutdown could be over today. We know there are the votes for it in the House of Representatives, and as I said yesterday (Thursday), if Speaker Boehner will simply allow that vote to take place, we can end this shutdown."



    Earlier, Boehner and other House Republicans demanded that Democrats negotiate changes in the law, which is now taking full effect.



    "This isn't some damn game. 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."



    Democrats in the House said they will use a parliamentary maneuver to try to force a vote on a funding bill to end the shutdown, but would need some Republican support to carry out the plan. Such a vote could not occur before October 14, three days before the U.S. must increase the borrowing limit.

    One analyst, University of Michigan business professor Erik Gordon, told VOA he thinks both Mr. Obama and his Republican opponents will have to compromise on their policy goals if a default is to be avoided.



    "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 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."



    Federal workers classified as essential employees, such as air traffic controllers, Border Patrol agents and many food inspectors, continue to work, as do many in the U.S. broadcasting services, including VOA.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora