News / USA

Obama to Congress: American People Not Pawns in Political Game

U.S. President Barack Obama delivers remarks on the government funding impasse at M. Luis Construction, a local small business in Rockville, Maryland, near Washington, October 3, 2013. Obama travelled to the business to highlight the impacts that a govern
U.S. President Barack Obama delivers remarks on the government funding impasse at M. Luis Construction, a local small business in Rockville, Maryland, near Washington, October 3, 2013. Obama travelled to the business to highlight the impacts that a govern
TEXT SIZE - +
VOA News
A partial U.S. government shutdown is in its third day with no end to the deadlock in sight, as Republican leaders in Congress want to defund or delay President Barack Obama's signature health care law as part of the next budget.

Obama said Thursday Congress must end the 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," he said. "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 that the Speaker of the House does not 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," he said. "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."

House Republican Tim Huelskamp, from Kansas, told CNN the president was speaking like a "dictator." Huelskamp said that instead of refusing to negotiate, he should work on a solution with Republicans. Huelskamp added the health care law "has everything to with the budget" because it was costing the American people a lot of money.

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

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.

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.

The White House says the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has started recalling furloughed employees to prepare for the potential landfall of Tropical Storm Karen.

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.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid