Government Shutdown Update

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama says he will negotiate with congressional Republicans only after they agree to reopen the federal government and after they increase the nation's borrowing authority, which is set to hit its limit in mid-October.

Obama says engaging in deal-making now would leave him and other presidents vulnerable to what he calls extortion by opposition parties.

Obama made his remarks Wednesday in an interview with CNBC.

He blamed the current impasse on, quote, "one faction of one party in one chamber."

He said he would be willing to negotiate long-term budget issues, including savings in big spending programs like Medicare and Social Security, but said he would also want to eliminate tax loopholes to generate revenue to pay for some of his education and infrastructure priorities.

The Republican-run House has rejected an effort by Democrats to force a quick end to the partial government shutdown. By a 227-197 vote Wednesday, the House rejected a move by Democrats aimed at forcing the House to vote on immediately reopening the government without clamping any restrictions on the health care law. The Democratic-run Senate has already approved such legislation.

Of all the larger government agencies, NASA is sending the largest percentage home in the government shutdown because their employees are considered not essential. Only 3 percent of NASA workers are still on the job.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, the Veterans Administration has 95 percent of its employees still working.

Experts say in a city where being essential is considered as fundamental as breathing, the essential workers number is the real indicator of importance -- politically and otherwise. About 60 percent of the 2.1 million federal employees are working during the shutdown.

The Homeland Security and Justice departments have high essential numbers. The Environmental Protection Agency, Housing and Urban Development and Internal Revenue Service have low ones.


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