World News

Obama to Congress: American People are not Pawns in Political Game

A partial U.S. government shutdown has stumbled into its third day with no end to the deadlock in sight, as Republicans leaders in Congress want to defund of delay President Barack Obama's signature health care law as part of the next budget.

President Barack Obama said Thursday Congress must end government shutdown that is preventing hundreds of thousands from working and harming thousands of companies that rely on their business.

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

Speaking outside Washington, the president said the only reason the shutdown continues is because the Speaker of the House doesn't want to upset "extremists" in his party by calling a vote on a budget passed by the Senate earlier this week. That budget keeps the health care law intact.

All Democrats and more than 17 Republicans in the House of Representatives say they would sign the Senate so-called "clean bill" if House Speaker John Boehner brought it up for a vote.

"Send the bill to the floor. Let everybody vote. It will pass. Send me the bill. I will sign it. The shutdown will be over and we can get back to the business of governing and helping the American people."

U.S. congressional leaders met for about an hour late Wednesday with President Barack Obama, but emerged from the closed-door session with no progress on the budget impasse that triggered the shutdown.

House Speaker John Boehner said he told the president he wants a discussion of what he called the "fairness" of Mr. Obama's signature health insurance program, the Affordable Care Act.

Wednesday's failed meeting raised fears the government shutdown could persist into mid-October and run up against a crucial deadline for raising the nation's borrowing limit to avoid a debt default.

Congress must renew the government's authority to borrow money by October 17 or risk a first-ever federal default, which many economists say would threaten the world economy.

Republicans have indicated they could move their campaign against the health care law to the debt fight.

Funding for much of the government has been cut off since Tuesday, when a Republican effort to force changes to the new health care law stalled a short-term, normally routine spending bill.

The shutdown has furloughed more than 800,000 federal workers, about one third of the federal work force. People classified as essential employees, such as air traffic controllers, Border Patrol agents and most food inspectors, continue to work, as do the U.S. broadcasting services, including VOA.

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.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?i
Carol Pearson
November 29, 2015 1:23 PM
The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?

The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video Political Motives Seen Behind Cancelled Cambodian Water Festival

For the fourth time in the five years since more than 350 people were killed in a stampede at Cambodia’s annual water festival, authorities canceled the event this year. Officials blamed environmental reasons as the cause, but many see it as fallout from rising political tensions with a fresh wave of ruling party intimidation against the opposition. David Boyle and Kimlong Meng report from Phnom Penh.

Video African Circus Gives At-Risk Youth a 2nd Chance

Ethiopia hosted the first African Circus Arts Festival this past weekend with performers from seven different African countries. Most of the performers are youngsters coming form challenging backgrounds who say the circus gave them a second chance.

Video US Lawmakers Brace for End-of-Year Battles

U.S. lawmakers are returning to Washington for Congress’ final working weeks of the year. And, as VOA's Michael Bowman reports, a full slate of legislative business awaits them, from keeping the federal government open to resolving a battle with the White House over the admittance of Syrian refugees.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video After Terrorist Attacks, Support for Refugees Fades

The terrorists who killed and injured almost 500 people around Paris this month are mostly French or Belgian nationals. But at least two apparently took advantage of Europe’s migrant crisis to sneak into the region. The discovery has hardened views about legitimate refugees, including those fleeing the same extremist violence that hit the French capital. Lisa Bryant has this report for VOA from the Paris suburb of Cergy-Pontoise

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

As Thailand takes in the annual Loy Krathong festival, many ponder the country’s future and security. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs