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
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

For Lebanon-based Refugees, Desperation Fuels Perilous Passage

In a war that has caused an estimated three million people to flee Syria, efforts to make perilous sea journey in search of asylum expected to increase More

South African Brewer Tackles Climate Change

Mega-brewer SAB Miller sent delegates to climate summit in Peru, says it is one of many private companies taking their own steps to fight climate change More

Indonesia Reports Increase in Citizens Joining Islamic State

Officials say more than 350 of its citizens are now in Syria or Iraq to fight with Islamic State - 50 more than last month More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid