World News

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

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.

President Barack 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. 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. 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 President Barack 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 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.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs