US govt paralysed for second day
03 October, 2013
WASHINGTON: The US government shutdown had its first major overseas fallout, with President Barack Obama shortening a long-planned Asia trip, as federal workers on Wednesday were idled for a second day.
Obama cancelled the Malaysia and Philippine legs of travel to get underway this weekend, and also left open the possibility of scrapping visits to Indonesia and Brunei, where he plans to take part in international summits. The US leader is scheduled to leave for Asia on Saturday, but the trip now depends on how the first US government shutdown in 17 years plays out. So far, the signs are not encouraging, as Republicans and Democrats in Washington appeared no closer to reaching agreement on a spending bill to keep the government running.
For a second day, federal workers will stay off the job without pay and tourists will be turned away from Washington's museums and monuments, amid national exasperation that the nation's elected officials were unable to avoid the impasse. Obama on Tuesday accused conservatives in the House of Representatives of waging an "ideological crusade" by making government funding conditional on gutting his landmark health care law. His top foe, Republican House Speaker John Boehner, said Obama was pursuing a "scorched earth" policy by refusing to negotiate, as the rhetoric hit new heights and hopes faded for a swift end to the standoff.
The president was in feisty form at a White House event marking the rollout of a key portion of Obamacare, which turned into an extended taunt at Republicans for failing to halt implementation of the sweeping law. "This Republican shutdown did not have to happen — I want every American to understand why it did happen," Obama said. "They have shut down the government over an ideological crusade to deny affordable health care to millions of Americans." The brinkmanship sent America into its first government shutdown in 17 years when the money ran out at midnight Monday into Tuesday.
The political paralysis remained unbroken as the Senate followed through on Majority Leader Harry Reid's promise, rejecting the House's demand that the two chambers appoint formal negotiators to thrash out a deal.