US shutdown deadlocked remainsReuters . Washington /New Age Online
President Barack Obama met with Republican and Democratic leaders in Congress on Wednesday to try to break a budget deadlock that has shut wide swaths of the federal government, but there was no breakthrough and both sides blamed each other.
After more than an hour of talks, House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner said Obama refused to negotiate, while House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid accused Republicans of trying to hold the president hostage over Obamacare.
Reid said Obama told Republicans "he will not stand" for their tactics. The White House later issued a statement saying that Obama remains hopeful that "common sense will prevail."
There was little to encourage hope for a quick solution to the two-day-old shutdown and hundreds of thousands of federal employees remained off the job without pay.
Leaders of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives and the Democratic-led Senate offered token concessions that were quickly dismissed by the other side. Obama, meanwhile, scaled back a long-planned trip to Asia.
Republicans have tried to tie continued government funding to measures that would undercut Obama's signature healthcare law. Obama and his Democrats say that is a non-starter.
"The president reiterated one more time that he will not negotiate," Boehner told reporters after the White House meeting. "All we're asking for here is a discussion and fairness for the American people under Obamacare."
Reid said Democrats were willing to discuss any way to tackle the budget after a temporary funding bill is passed. "We're through playing these little games," he said.
"My friend John Boehner ... cannot take yes for an answer," he told reporters.
The shutdown, which took effect Monday at midnight (0400 GMT Tuesday), has raised questions about Washington's ability to carry out its most essential duties.
Though it would do relatively little damage to the world's largest economy in the short term, global markets could be roiled if Congress also fails to raise the debt limit before borrowing authority runs out in coming weeks.
The shutdown has closed landmarks like the Grand Canyon, cut off government economic data reports and prevented some cancer patients from receiving cutting-edge treatment.
United Technologies Corp, which makes Sikorsky helicopters and other items for the military, said it would be forced to furlough as many as 4,000 employees if the U.S. government shutdown continues through next week, due to the absence of government quality inspectors.
"Am I exasperated? Absolutely I'm exasperated. Because this is entirely unnecessary," Obama told CNBC television in an interview before meeting the congressional leaders. "I am exasperated with the idea that unless I say to 20 million people, 'You can't have health insurance,' these folks will not reopen the government. That is irresponsible."
The U.S. Army's top general said the shutdown was significantly harming day-to-day operations, and intelligence leaders say it is undermining their ability to monitor threats. A Federal Reserve official said it could delay the central bank's ability to assess whether its monetary stimulus efforts are still needed.
The uncertainty in Washington has forced Obama to scale back an Asia trip that was designed to reinforce U.S. commitment to the region.
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President Barack Obama met with Republican and Democratic leaders in Congress on Wednesday to try to break a budget deadlock that has shut wide swaths of the federal government, but there was no breakthrough and both sides blamed each other. Full story