Spokesman: Obama Not Backing Down On Shutdown Stalemate

His spokesman says President Barack Obama isn't backing down from his refusal to negotiate changes in the health care law in return for reopening the government.

Obama has called Democratic and Republican congressional leaders to the White House later today. Spokesman Jay Carney says he'll be impressing upon them the consequences of the shutdown, but won't be offering what Carney calls "concessions to Republicans in exchange for not tanking the economy."

House Speaker John Boehner's (BAY'-nurz) office had suggested the meeting was a sign that Obama is ready to yield. A spokesman for the speaker said Obama realized that "his refusal to negotiate is indefensible."

Also attending the meeting will be Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell, and the Democratic leaders of the Senate and House, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi.

Reid today offered a new round of budget talks to House Republicans if they allow the government to reopen. But a spokesman for Boehner said he rejected the offer.

(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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President Barack Obama has summoned congressional leaders to the White House on this, the second day of a partial government shutdown.

House Speaker John Boehner's office says the invitation is a sign that the president might be backing down. A Boehner spokesman says Obama "finally recognizes that his refusal to negotiate is indefensible."

But an Obama adviser said the president would urge House Republicans to pass a spending bill that didn't include provisions on health care or other demands.

A spokesman for Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell said, "Frankly, we're a little confused as to the purpose of this meeting." But McConnell and Boehner agreed to sit down with Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and the Democratic leaders from the Senate and House, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi.

Meanwhile, there have been some rumblings from Republicans who want to reopen the government. GOP congressman Peter King is accusing lawmakers supported by the tea party of trying to "hijack" the Republican Party. And he said he believes a growing number of rank-and-file GOP lawmakers are tired of the shutdown.

But Republican leaders seem determined to press on, announcing plans to pass five bills to open popular parts of the government. The White House immediately promised a veto.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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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.

A funding cutoff for much of the government began Tuesday as a Republican effort to kill or delay the nation's health care law stalled action on a short-term, traditionally routine spending bill. Republicans pivoted to a strategy to try to reopen the government piecemeal but were unable to immediately advance the idea in the House.

National parks like Yellowstone and Alcatraz Island were shuttered, government websites went dark and hundreds of thousands of nonessential workers reported for a half-day to fill out time cards, hand in their government cellphones and laptops, and change voicemail messages to gird for a deepening shutdown.

The Defense Department said it wasn't clear that service academies would be able to participate in sports, putting Saturday's Army vs. Boston College and Air Force vs. Navy football games on hold, with a decision to be made Thursday.

And the White House said Wednesday that President Barack Obama would have to truncate a long-planned trip to Asia, calling off the final two stops in Malaysia and the Philippines.

Even as many government agencies closed their doors, health insurance exchanges that are at the core of Obama's health care law were up and running, taking applications for coverage that would start Jan. 1.

"Shutting down our government doesn't accomplish their stated goal," Obama said of his Republican opponents at a Rose Garden event hailing implementation of the law. "The Affordable Care Act is a law that passed the House; it passed the Senate. The Supreme Court ruled it constitutional. It was a central issue in last year's election. It is settled, and it is here to stay. And because of its funding sources, it's not impacted by a government shutdown."

GOP leaders faulted the Senate for killing a House request to open official negotiations on the temporary spending bill. Senate Democrats led by Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada insist that Republicans give in and pass their simple, straightforward temporary funding bill, known as a continuing resolution.

"None of us want to be in a shutdown. And we're here to say to the Senate Democrats, 'Come and talk to us,'" House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., said as GOP lawmakers designated to negotiate the shutdown legislation met among themselves before cameras and reporters. "At each and every turn, the Senate Democrats refused to even discuss these proposals."

In an op-ed in Wednesday's USA Today, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, wrote: "As for House Republicans, we will continue our efforts to keep the government running and deal honestly with the problems we face. We hope that Senate Democrats — and President Obama — change course and start working with us on behalf of the American people."

Late Tuesday, House Republicans sought passage of legislation aimed at reopening small slices of the government. The bills covered the national parks, the Veterans Affairs Department and city services in Washington, D.C., such as garbage collection funded with local tax revenues.

The move presented Democrats with politically challenging votes but they rejected the idea, saying it was unfair to pick winners and losers as federal employees worked without a guarantee of getting paid and the effects of the partial shutdown rippled through the country and the economy. The White House promised a veto.

Since the measures were brought before the House under expedited procedures requiring a two-thirds vote to pass, House Democrats scuttled them, despite an impassioned plea by Democratic D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, who recalled that in the last shutdown 17 years ago she prevailed on House Speaker Newt Gingrich to win an exemption to keep the D.C. government running.

"I must support this piecemeal approach," Norton said. "What would you do if your local budget was here?"

But other Democrats said Republicans shouldn't be permitted to choose which agencies should open and which remain shut.

"This piecemeal approach will only prolong a shutdown," Rep. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., said.

Republicans said there could be more votes Wednesday, perhaps to allow the National Institutes of Health to continue pediatric cancer research. The NIH's famed hospital of last resort wasn't admitting new patients because of the shutdown. Dr. Francis Collins, agency director, estimated that each week the shutdown lasts would force the facility to turn away about 200 patients, 30 of them children, who want to enroll in studies of experimental treatments. Patients already at the hospital are permitted to stay.

Republicans also said the House may vote anew on the three measures that failed Tuesday, this time under normal rules requiring a simple majority to pass.

Republicans hoped such votes would create pressure on Democrats to drop their insistence that they won't negotiate on the spending bill or an even more important subsequent measure, required in a couple of weeks or so, to increase the government's borrowing limit.

There were suggestions from leaders in both parties that the shutdown could last for weeks and grow to encompass the measure to increase the debt limit. "This is now all together," Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said.

"It's untenable not to negotiate," House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said. "I've always believed it was the debt limit that would be the forcing action."

While GOP leaders seemed determined to press on, some Republicans conceded they might bear the brunt of any public anger over the shutdown — and seemed resigned to an eventual surrender in their latest bruising struggle with Obama.

Democrats have "all the leverage and we've got none," Sen. Saxby Chambliss of Georgia said.

Rep. Scott Rigell of Virginia said it was time to pass legislation reopening the government without any health care impediments.

"The shutdown is hurting my district — including the military and the hardworking men and women who have been furloughed due to the defense sequester," he said.

But that was far from the majority view among House Republicans, where tea party-aligned lawmakers prevailed more than a week ago on a reluctant leadership to link federal funding legislation to the health care law. In fact, some conservatives fretted the GOP had already given in too much.

(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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There's at least one constant in a government shutdown: The 532 members of Congress continue to be paid - at a cost of $10,583.85 per hour to taxpayers.

Lawmakers get their pay even as hundreds of congressional staffers are sent home, packs of tourists are turned away at the Capitol, and constituent services in many offices grind to a halt.

House members and senators can't withhold their own pay even if they want to. Under the Constitution's 27th Amendment, lawmakers can only change the pay of those in a future Congress, not the one in which they serve.

Lawmakers aren't oblivious to how it looks. Republican Sen. Ted Cruz and others are pledging to donate their salaries to charity during the shutdown.

There are suggestions from leaders in both parties that the partial government shutdown could last for weeks.

It went into effect today, as each side blamed the other for causing it.

President Barack Obama said Republicans brought about the shutdown as part of an "ideological crusade" to wipe out his health care law. House Speaker John Boehner (BAY'-nur), writing in USA Today, says Democrats "slammed the door on reopening the government" by refusing to negotiate.

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President Barack Obama says House Republicans have shut down the federal government over an "ideological crusade" against his health care law.

Obama is speaking in the Rose Garden on the first day of the government shutdown. He says the longer the shutdown continues, the worse the impact will be.

The president says Republicans should not be able to hold the entire economy "hostage." He is urging them to reopen the government quickly and allow furloughed federal employees to go back to work.

The government shut down because Congress did not pass a funding bill ahead of Monday's midnight deadline for the end of the 2013 fiscal year.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

President Barack Obama is telling federal workers he hopes Washington quickly resolves the government shutdown that has forced many out the door.

In a letter emailed to federal employees, Obama says the shutdown was "completely preventable." And he calls on the House of Representatives to pass a law reopening the government and giving workers back pay.

The president also laments that government employees have become "punching bags" in Washington's partisan fiscal fights. About 800,000 federal workers are being forced off the job because Congress did not pass a bill to keep the government funded ahead of Monday's midnight deadline for the end of the 2013 fiscal year.

Obama says that if the shutdown continues, it will make it more difficult to recruit talented people for government jobs.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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The Senate has voted to reject the latest House Republican effort to negotiate on the budget amid the government shutdown.

The party-line vote was 54-46 on Tuesday. The Senate turned aside a House request to name negotiators to a conference to resolve differences.

Majority Leader Harry Reid said he wouldn't negotiate as long as Republicans were holding up a straightforward spending bill to keep the government operating.

The vote marked the fourth time during this fight that the Democratic-controlled Senate has rejected House Republican efforts. The political stalemate that has triggered the first government shutdown in 17 years.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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Congress misses midnight deadline for blocking partial government shutdown, 1st in 17 years.

As the clock struck midnight Monday, House Republicans were demanding that the Senate negotiate their demand for a one-year delay in making millions of people buy health insurance under President Barack Obama's 2010 health care law. Minutes before midnight, the White House ordered a shutdown.

The Democratic Senate on Monday twice rejected GOP demands to delay key portions of what has become to known as Obamacare as a condition for keeping the government open.

An estimated 800,000 federal workers faced furloughs though many were told work a half day Tuesday. Critical functions like air traffic control and military operations will continue. Social Security benefits will be paid. National parks and most federal offices will close.

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The Senate voted once again to reject a resolution by House Republicans that would fund the government but delay implementation of the Affordable Care Act. The Senate acted within moments to kill the latest House offering.

As lawmakers squabbled, President Barack Obama urged House Republicans to abandon demands he said were designed to "save face after making some impossible promises to the extreme right of their party."

He also warned that shutting the government down puts the recovering economy at risk.

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It's the Senate's turn.

The House has voted once again to delay funding for the Affordable Health Care Act and sent the measure back to the Senate.

Earlier Monday it stripped a GOP health care provision.

At the White House, President Barack Obama ramped up pressure on Republicans to avoid a post-midnight government shutdown. He says a shutdown would hurt the economy and hundreds of thousands of government workers.

He says it would "throw a wrench into the gears" of a recovering economy.

PREVIOUS STORY:

President Barack Obama is ramping up pressure on Republicans to avoid a post-midnight government shutdown. He says a shutdown would hurt the economy and hundreds of thousands of government workers.

He says it would "throw a wrench into the gears" of a recovering economy.

He urges the House to pass a short-term spending bill free of any conditions that would weaken the nation's 3-year-old health care law.

Obama spoke Monday after the Senate rejected a House proposal to delay implementation of the health care law. House Republicans were preparing to vote on another stop-gap spending measure, this one putting off a requirement that people must obtain health insurance.

The White House issued a veto threat to that proposal shortly after GOP leaders proposed it.


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President Barack Obama says he's "not at all" resigned to a government shutdown. He says he expects to speak to congressional leaders during the day and in ensuing days to address budget and debt impasses.

The president addressed the looming shutdown after meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (neh-ten-YAH'-hoo). He also planned to speak from the White House briefing room Monday afternoon.

Obama's remarks follow the Democratic-led Senate's rejection Monday of a short-term spending proposal passed by the House. It contained a one-year delay on the nation's health care law.

The two chambers are trying to reach an agreement to avert a shutdown looming at midnight Monday.

The spending fight is a prelude to a bigger confrontation over the nation's credit limit, expected to hit in mid-October.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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