US shutdown looms amid stalemate

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Democrat and Republican lawmakers show no signs of reaching a budget deal, as the midnight deadline before a US government shutdown approaches. Photo: AP
U.S. President President Barack Obama said on Monday he is not resigned to a U.S. government shutdown taking place with a midnight deadline looming and said he would talk to congressional leaders later.
The shutdown would be the first in the US for 17 years.
During an Oval Office appearance with visiting Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Obama said he supported a Senate bill that would allow for a short-term funding of the government without cutting funding from his signature healthcare law, which Republicans are seeking to gut.
Obama said he planned to talk to congressional leaders later on Monday as well as on Tuesday and Wednesday.
"I am not at all resigned" to a shutdown, he said.
Obama said all involved must sit down in good faith without a threat of a debt default because the US dollar is the
reserve currency of the world and "we don\’t mess with that".
Obama\’s comments come as the US government is hours away from a partial shutdown, its first in nearly two decades, with Republican and Democratic lawmakers trading blame over who is responsible.
In session on Monday, the US Senate killed a Republican proposal, passed by the House of Representatives, to delay key parts of Obama\’s healthcare law.
In a vote of 54-to-46 along party lines, the Democrat-controlled Senate defeated the Obamacare delay and a House amendment repealing a medical device tax that were attached to an emergency spending bill.
Republicans have refused to pass a budget unless Democrats agree to the concessions.
But If no deal is struck by day\’s end, large parts of the federal government will be shut down and 800,000 federal workers will be furloughed.
Some critical services such as patrolling the borders, inspecting meat and controlling air traffic would continue.
Social Security, the American pension scheme, will continue to pay out benefits, and the Medicare and Medicaid healthcare programmes will continue to function as well.
The latest fiscal fight underscored the deep divide between the Republicans and the Obama administration and its Democratic allies.
Republicans insisted that the healthcare law was costing jobs and driving up healthcare costs.
Obama has said he will not let the law, his chief domestic achievement, be gutted; Democrats say Republicans are obsessed with attacking the overhaul, which is aimed at providing health coverage for millions of uninsured Americans.
Since the last government shutdown 17 years ago, temporary funding bills known as continuing resolutions have been uncontroversial.
But with exchanges set to open on Tuesday where people could shop for healthcare coverage from private insurers, lawmakers from the Republicans\’ ultraconservative tea-party wing are willing to take the risk in their drive to kill the healthcare law.
The action in Washington on Sunday was limited mainly to TV talk shows and barrages of press releases, as Democrats and Republicans rehearsed arguments for blaming each other if the government in fact closes its doors at midnight on Monday.
Source: Agencies

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