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Senate Democrats Plead with House to Pass Their Budget

The White House says President Barack Obama has invited congressional leaders to the White House late Wednesday to discuss ending the government shutdown, as some Republicans in the House of Representative seemed willing to break the standoff over the president's signature health care law.

Several House Republicans say they would join with Democrats to support a Senate spending bill that would end the U.S. government shutdown with no strings attached.

Republicans in the House of Representatives have tied government funding to a delay or defunding of the health care program.

But the Democratic-controlled Senate rejected the House proposals and the shutdown went into effect early Tuesday after the deadline to extend federal funding passed.

Nearly one-million U.S. federal workers have been laid off and the shutdown is keeping national parks and many federal agencies shuttered.

The U.S. government shutdown is also forcing President Barack Obama to cancel two stops on his upcoming trip to Asia .

On the second day of the shutdown, the White House said Mr. Obama is cutting his planned visits to Malaysia and the Philippines. But VOA White House Correspondent Dan Robinson says the president still plans to make his first two stops, in Indonesia and Brunei, to attend the APEC and East Asia Summits.

"There is a lot at stake for President Obama. As you know he did not go to the APEC summit in 2012. He was represented there by Secretary of State, then Secretary of State Clinton. So it is really important for a U.S. leader, given the whole Asia-pivot on economic and military security, the Asia pivot strategy, to show up at these meetings."

Senate Democrats with ties to hundreds of thousands of furloughed government workers pleaded with House Republicans Wednesday to vote on a Senate bill that approves a budget without affecting the health care law.

Senator Mark Warner, from Virginia, called shutting down the government "stupidity on steroids." Barbara Mikulski, a Senator from Maryland, spoke directly to the Speaker of the House.

"We call upon Speaker Boehner, let your members vote on the Senate legislation, "Yes or No." If you vote "Yes," we can move forward. If you vote, "No," let us take another look at it. Let us get the job done."

A Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday indicates 72 percent of American voters oppose the shutdown.

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 qualify for coverage.

Republican opponents of Obamacare say it forces people, including small businesses, to buy expensive insurance policies against their will, hurting the economy.

The government shutdown is not affecting Voice of America broadcasts, but it has closed Smithsonian museums, as well as services such as federal tax offices, help for veterans, and some food aid for the poor.

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