News / USA

White House Invites Congressional Leaders to Discuss Ending Shutdown

File - Speaker of the House John Boehner (L) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid
File - Speaker of the House John Boehner (L) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid
VOA News
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 Representatives 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.

Meanwhile the U.S. government shutdown has forced President Barack Obama to cancel two stops on his upcoming trip to Asia. On the second day of the shutdown, the White House said Obama is cutting his planned visits to Malaysia and the Philippines.

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," said Robinson. "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."

Obama was originally due to leave the United States on Saturday and return a week later.

The shutdown went into effect early Tuesday after lawmakers missed a deadline to extend federal funding.

 
Shutdown day 2


How The Shutdown is Affecting Services

  • About 800,000 federal workers furloughed
  • The military's 1.4 million active-duty personnel remain on duty, their paychecks delayed
  • NASA is furloughing almost all its employees
  • Air traffic controllers and screeners staying on the job
  • Federal courts continue to operate
  • Mail deliveries continue since U.S. Postal Service is not funded by tax dollars
  • Most Homeland Security employees continue to work
  • Most veterans' services continue because they are funded in advance
  • National Parks and Smithsonian museums closing
Republicans in the House of Representatives wanted to tie funding to a delay or defunding of President Obama's signature health care law, the Affordable Care Act.

Each attempt was turned back by the Democratic-controlled Senate, which must also agree to budget legislation.

Some 800,000 U.S. federal workers face a second day of furlough Wednesday as the shutdown keeps national parks and many federal agencies shuttered.

A Quinnipiac University poll indicated some 72 percent of American voters oppose the shutdown.  A Reuters/Ipsos poll indicated that 24 percent of Americans blamed Republicans, while 19 percent blamed Obama or Democrats. Another 46 percent said everyone was to blame.


Partial funding measures rejected

On Tuesday, the House rejected three separate measures that would have funded parts of the federal government. The Republican-proposed bills to reopen national parks and museums, fund veterans' services and the city of Washington, D.C. failed to get the required two-thirds support.

Security officer Jarvis Landlum holds a sign informing people on the government shutdown of Alcatraz Island, a tourist attraction operated by the National Park Service, in San Francisco, California Oct. 1, 2013.Security officer Jarvis Landlum holds a sign informing people on the government shutdown of Alcatraz Island, a tourist attraction operated by the National Park Service, in San Francisco, California Oct. 1, 2013.
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Security officer Jarvis Landlum holds a sign informing people on the government shutdown of Alcatraz Island, a tourist attraction operated by the National Park Service, in San Francisco, California Oct. 1, 2013.
Security officer Jarvis Landlum holds a sign informing people on the government shutdown of Alcatraz Island, a tourist attraction operated by the National Park Service, in San Francisco, California Oct. 1, 2013.
Even if they had passed, the White House said it would veto any partial government reopening. Spokesman Jay Carney said attempts to fund some operations while leaving others closed shows an utter lack of seriousness on the part of Republicans.

House Democrats criticized Republicans for worrying about public parks instead of programs to feed children. Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi likened it to kidnappers freeing just one hostage at a time.

'Obamacare' begins

A Tea Party member reaches for a pamphlet titled A Tea Party member reaches for a pamphlet titled "The Impact of Obamacare", at a Tea Party Rally in Littleton, New Hampshire, Oct. 27, 2012
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A Tea Party member reaches for a pamphlet titled
A Tea Party member reaches for a pamphlet titled "The Impact of Obamacare", at a Tea Party Rally in Littleton, New Hampshire, Oct. 27, 2012
Implementation of the Affordable Care Act -- nicknamed "Obamacare" by its opponents -- went ahead as scheduled Tuesday

Obama has said Republicans opposed to the plan want to deny affordable health insurance to millions of Americans

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

The current government shutdown is not affecting Voice of America broadcasts, but it has closed parks and museums, as well as services such as federal tax offices, help for veterans, and food aid for the poor.  Most civilian employees at the Pentagon must stay home, although the U.S. military remains on duty. The U.S. space agency, NASA, is almost entirely shut down, and U.S. military cemeteries overseas are closed. Other federal workers are staying on the job with no guarantee when they will be paid.

Financial Markets React

Investors on Wednesday appeared to show growing anxiety on over the standoff after taking the news in stride on Tuesday, with Wall Street opening lower and the U.S. dollar continuing to fall.

The U.S. Treasury has also been forced to pay the highest interest rate in about 10 months on its short-term debt as many investors avoided bonds that would be due later this month, when the government is due to exhaust its borrowing capacity.

A short-term shutdown would slow U.S. economic growth by about 0.2 percentage points, Goldman Sachs said on Wednesday, but a weeks-long disruption could weigh more heavily - 0.4 percentage points - as furloughed workers scale back personal spending.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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Comments
     
by: Dr. Gustaff Jocklick from: Miami
October 02, 2013 11:30 AM
Obamacare benefits only two classes of people. It benefits employers who drop their employees working hours below the hours specified for Obamacare coverage, and it benefits the insurance companies or the IRS who collect the premiums and penalties. Many of the people who pay the premiums won’t be able to use the policies because of co-pays and deductions.

The very poor with no assets might receive health care if they reside in states that accept the Medicaid provisions of Obamacare. In 21st century America, the few people who have experienced income gains are the executives and shareholders of firms who off-shored their production for US markets, Wall Street which makes bets covered by the Federal Reserve, and the military-security complex which has been enriched by the neoconservatives’ wars. Every other American has lost.

by: Mrs. Snoughfolougfougus from: NYC
October 02, 2013 11:27 AM
Obamacare works for the insurance companies, but not for the uninsured. The cost of using Obamacare is prohibitive for those who most need the health coverage. The cost of the premiums net of the government subsidy is large. It amounts to a substantial pay cut for people struggling to pay their bills. In addition to the premium cost, it is prohibitive for hard pressed Americans to use the policies because of the deductibles and co-pays. For the very poor, who are thrown into Medicaid systems, any assets they might have, such as a home, are subject to confiscation to cover their Medicaid bills. The only people other than the insurance companies who benefit from Obamacare are the down and out who are devoid of all assets.

by: Dr. Roberts from: USA
October 02, 2013 11:25 AM
The government of the “world’s only superpower,” the “exceptional,” the “indispensable” country, claims to know what is best for Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen, Pakistan, Somalia, Mali, Russia, Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Brazil, China, indeed for the entire world. However, the “indispensable” country cannot even govern itself, much less the world over which the “superpower” desires hegemony. The government of the “world’s only superpower” has shut itself down.

The government has shut itself down, because it cannot deal with the budget deficit and mounting public debt caused by twelve years of wars, by financial deregulation that allows “banks too big to fail” to loot the taxpayers, and by the loss of jobs, GDP, and tax base that jobs offshoring forced by Wall Street caused. The Republicans are using the fight over the limit on new public debt to block Obamacare. The Republicans are right to oppose Obamacare, but they are opposing Obamacare largely for ideological reasons when there are very good sound reasons to oppose Obamacare.

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