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Obama Shortens Asia Trip Because of Shutdown

U.S. President Barack Obama is canceling two stops on his upcoming trip to Asia because of the partial U.S. government shutdown that has entered its second day.

The White House announced Wednesday that Mr. Obama is cutting his planned visits to Malaysia and the Philippines, but expects to make his first two stops, in Indonesia and Brunei, on the trip that is scheduled to begin Saturday.

Meanwhile in the U.S., some 800,000 U.S. federal workers face a second day of furlough as the shutdown, triggered by a Congressional budget impasse, keeps national parks and many federal agencies shuttered.

A Quinnipiac University poll indicated some 72 percent of American voters oppose the shutdown, which started Tuesday after lawmakers missed a deadline to extend federal funding. Republicans in the House of Representatives wanted to tie funding to a delay or defunding of President Obama's signature health care law, known as the Affordable Care Act. Each attempt was turned back by the Democratic-controlled Senate, which must also agree to budget legislation.



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, DC failed to get the required two-thirds support.

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.

Meanwhile Tuesday, implementation of the Affordable Care Act -- nicknamed "Obamacare" by its opponents -- went ahead as scheduled.

Mr. 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.

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