Obama Summons Congressional Leaders To White House


WASHINGTON (UPI) — U.S. President Barack Obama Wednesday moved to end the government shutdown, inviting congressional leaders to the White House.

Roll Call reported Obama invited House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to discuss a continuing resolution and raising the debt ceiling.

Obama Tuesday accused far-right Republicans of strangling their party and the economy.

The shutdown was sparked because Republicans were determined to scale back the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act before the insurance marketplaces opened on Tuesday.

The GOP-led House refused to fund Federal agencies for the new fiscal year, which began Tuesday, without attaching provisions to delay or defund Obama’s signature healthcare reform. The Democratic-controlled Senate rejected each of those efforts.

Earlier Wednesday, Obama scaled back his his planned trip to Asia next week as a result of the funding dispute.

In two communications, the White House press secretary’s office said Obama called Philippine President Benigno Aquino and Malaysian Prime Minister Mohammad Najib Abdul Razak to tell them he wouldn’t be visiting their countries.

The White House said the President still plans to travel to Indonesia and Brunei, where he is to attend two international summits.

Secretary of State John F. Kerry will visit the Philippines and Malaysia instead of the President.

“Due to the government shutdown, President Obama’s travel to Malaysia and the Philippines has been postponed,” Caitlin Hayden, a spokeswoman for the National Security Council, told The Washington Post in an email. “Logistically, it was not possible to go ahead with these trips in the face of a government shutdown. Because they are on the back end of the President’s upcoming trip, our personnel was not yet in place and we were not able to go forward with planning. … Secretary Kerry will lead delegations to both countries in place of the President.

Hayden said Obama looks forward to visiting Malaysia and the Philippines later in his term.

Hayden placed blame for the shutdown squarely at the House Republicans’ feet.

“The cancellation of this trip is another consequence of the House Republicans forcing a shutdown of the government,” she said in the email to the Post. “A faction of House Republicans [is] doing whatever they can to deny America from carrying out our exceptional role in the world.”

She said evaluations of Obama’s travels to the summits in Indonesia and Brunei would be made during the week.

The trip is scheduled to begin Saturday.

Republicans and Democrats traded blame throughout the day Tuesday.

As prospects for a drawn-out shutdown increased, there was the growing possibility the standoff could become intertwined with an even larger battle over raising the debt limit in mid-October.

Treasury Secretary Jack Lew has said he will begin running short of cash to pay the government’s bills unless Congress raises the federal debt ceiling by Oct. 17.

“The sad news is that, given the performance to date, that the debt-limit extension is coming up in two weeks, and this does not portend responsible action on the debt limit,” House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., told The Wall Street Journal.

Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., added, “Every day we are here, the calendars are running together.”

Obama has said repeatedly he won’t negotiate over raising the debt ceiling, saying Congress has a responsibility to let the Treasury pay bills lawmakers have already incurred.

Obama planned a series of to address the looming prospect of a first-time default on U.S. debt, the White House said.

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