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Obama meets Congressional leaders, but no deal

Source : IANS
Last Updated: Thu, Oct 03, 2013 04:10 hrs

Washington, Oct 3 (IANS) As the US government shutdown headed towards a third day, President Barack Obama met four top congressional leaders seeking passage of a stopgap spending measure and a debt-ceiling increase, but failed to get a deal.

Obama's first meeting Wednesday with John Boehner, speaker of the Republican controlled House, House majority leader Eric Cantor and Democrat Senate majority leader Harry Reid and House minority leader Nancy Pelosi yielded no breakthrough on the budget crisis.

Obama and his Democrats stuck to their guns seeking a clean continuing resolution and a debt ceiling increase with no conditions attached, while the Republicans continued to insist on either scrapping or delaying Obama's signature health care law.

Standing in front of the White House, Pelosi said the meeting was "worthwhile" but Republicans "keep moving the goal post" for reaching a deal with Boehner suggesting Democrats "will not negotiate."

"I thought that they were concerned about the long-term fiscal affairs of this country. And we said, 'we are too. Let's talk about it,'" said Harry Reid. "My friend, John Boehner ... cannot take yes for an answer."

Earlier in the day Obama said he was "prepared to negotiate on anything" regarding the federal budget -- but only after Congress passes "a clean piece of legislation that reopens the government" and allows the US "Treasury to pay for things that Congress itself already authorized."

"Absolutely, I'm exasperated, because this is entirely unnecessary," Obama told CNBC in an interview.

Obama Wednesday cancelled part of his upcoming trip to Asia to fight a prolonged battle with the Republicans over the budget and instead deputed Secretary of State John Kerry to lead delegations to Philippines and Malaysia next week.

The president will, however make the trip to Indonesia to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, where Asian leaders are gathering in Bali to discuss economic issues since that even can't be rescheduled, the White House said.

Reid said Democratic leaders offered Boehner "a lifeline" by setting up negotiations "about anything that you want to talk about" so long as the House agrees to reopen the government first.

The total economic impact of the first shutdown in 17 years during Bill Clinton's presidency is likely to be at least 10 times greater than the simple calculation of lost wages of federal workers, CNN said citing Brian Kessler, economist with Moody's Analytics.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at arun.kumar@ians.in)




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