October 2, 2013

White House meeting yields no progress on shutdown

Republican leaders still hope to delay or wipe out the new health law, which the president says is an unacceptable reason to shut down the nation's government.

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama brought congressional leaders to the White House on Wednesday for the first time since a partial government shutdown began, but there was no sign of progress toward ending an impasse that has idled 800,000 federal workers and curbed services around the country.

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House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, speaks to reporters following a meeting with President Barack Obama at the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013. Obama and congressional leaders met at the White House on the second day of a partial government shutdown.

AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

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House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., right, walks with Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., left, after speaking to reporters following a meeting with President Barack Obama and the Republican leadership at the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013. Obama and congressional leaders met at the White House on the second day of a partial government shutdown.

AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

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The standoff continued after a White House summit with chief executives as financial leaders and Wall street urged a resolution before serious damage is done to the U.S. and world economy.

Obama “refuses to negotiate,” House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio., told reporters after private talks that lasted more than an hour. “All we’re asking for here is a discussion and fairness for the American people under Obamacare.”

But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada said moments later, “We’re locked in tight on Obamacare” and neither the president nor Democrats will accept changes in the nation’s 3-year-old health care law as the price for spending legislation needed to end the two-day partial shutdown.

With the nation’s ability to borrow money soon to lapse, Republicans and Democrats alike said the shutdown could last for two weeks or more, and soon oblige a divided government to grapple with both economy-threatening issues at the same time.

The White House said in a statement after the meeting that Obama had made it clear “he is not going to negotiate over the need for Congress to act to reopen the government or to raise the debt limit to pay the bills Congress has already incurred.”

It added, “The president remains hopeful that common sense will prevail.”

The high-level bickering at microphones set up outside the White House reflected the day’s proceedings in the Capitol.

The Republican-controlled House approved legislation to reopen the nation’s parks and the National Institutes of Health, even though many Democrats criticized them as part of a piecemeal approach that fell far short of what was needed. The bills face dim prospects in the Senate, and the White House threatened to veto both in the unlikely event they make it to Obama’s desk.

“What we’re trying to do is to get the government open as quickly as possible,” said the House majority leader, Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia. “And all that it would take is us realizing we have a lot in agreement.”

Earlier, an attempt by Democrats to force shutdown-ending legislation to the House floor failed on a 227-197 vote, with all Republicans in opposition. That left intact the tea party-driven strategy of demanding changes to the nation’s health care overhaul as the price for essential federal financing, despite grumbling from Republican moderates.

The stock market ended lower as Wall Street CEOs, Europe’s central banker and traders pressed for a solution. Chief executives from the nation’s biggest financial firms met Obama for more than an hour Wednesday, some of them plainly frustrated with the tactics at play in Congress and with the potential showdown coming over the debt limit.

“You can re-litigate these policy issues in a political forum, but we shouldn’t use threats of causing the U.S. to fail on its obligations to repay its debt as a cudgel,” Lloyd Blankfein, CEO of Goldman Sachs, said after the meeting.

Democrats were scathing in their criticism.

“The American people would get better government out of Monkey Island at the local zoo than we’re giving them today,” said Rep. John Dingell of Michigan.

The Republican National Committee announced it would pay for personnel needed to reopen the World War II Memorial, a draw for aging veterans from around the country that is among the sites shuttered. In a statement, party chairman Reince Priebus challenged Democrats “to join with us in keeping this memorial open.”

(Continued on page 2)

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Additional Photos

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As Rep. Steve Israel, D-N.Y., speaks at left, House Democrats rally behind Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., right, as they tell the Republican majority they want a vote on reopening the government without clamping any restrictions on President Barack Obama’s health care law, at the Capitol in Washington on Wednesday.

The Associated Press

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House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio walks to his office on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013. The Republican-run House has rejected an effort by Democrats to force a quick end to the partial government shutdown. By a 227-197 vote Wednesday, the House rejected a move by Democrats aimed at forcing the House to vote on immediately reopening the government without clamping any restrictions on President Barack Obama’s health care law.

The Associated Press

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A pad lock secures the iron gate of the closed National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden in Washington, Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013. President Barack Obama summoned congressional leaders to the White House on the second day of a partial government shutdown that has furloughed hundreds of thousands of workers and closed military cemeteries as far away as France. Republican leaders welcomed the Wednesday afternoon meeting but questioned whether Democrats were ready to deal.

The Associated Press

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Vicki Maturo, of Culver City, Calif., protests against the government shutdown outside the federal building in Los Angeles on Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013. President Barack Obama summoned congressional leaders to the White House on the second day of a partial government shutdown that has furloughed hundreds of thousands of workers and closed military cemeteries as far away as France.

The Associated Press

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Barricades are posted in front of the closed Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013. The political stare-down on Capitol Hill shows no signs of easing, leaving federal government functions _ from informational websites, to national parks, to processing veterans’ claims _ in limbo from coast to coast. Lawmakers in both parties ominously suggested the partial shutdown might last for weeks.

The Associated Press

 


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