U.S. government shuttered with no fast end seen amid discord

Source: Bloomberg Source: Bloomberg

The partial shutdown of the U.S. government showed no signs of ending quickly, as lawmakers stiffened their positions and sought to shift blame to the other side.

Day one of the first shutdown since 1996 wrapped up with no talks scheduled between the White House and Congress, making it more likely the standoff would merge with the fight over raising the U.S. debt limit later this month to make sure the government can pay all its bills.

“We’re this far, so you have to let it play out,” said Representative Devin Nunes, a California Republican who has criticized his party’s hard-liners for dictating its strategy.

Stocks fell and Treasuries rose, a day after as many as 800,000 federal workers were sent home with no paychecks and parks and other services were shuttered across the country. Standard & Poor’s 500 Index futures slid 0.8% as the first partial shutdown in 17 years entered its second day with no talks scheduled between the White House and Congress.

House Republicans sought a way out of the impasse, flinging proposals at the Democrats and seeking to engage the Senate and President Barack Obama in direct talks.

“The president isn’t telling the whole story when it comes to the government shutdown,” House Speaker John Boehner, an Ohio Republican, wrote in USA Today. “Washington Democrats have slammed the door on reopening the government by refusing to engage in bipartisan talks.”

‘Doomed’ Effort

Republican Representative Peter King of New York said his party had allowed 30 or 40 lawmakers “to hijack” this issue.

“This was doomed from the start,” King said on MSNBC today, adding that a number of people will hold meetings in the House today. He urged Obama to step in and resolve the crisis.

“Forget whose fault it is, he’s the president of the United States,” King said.

White House officials announced today that Obama is shortening his planned trip for meetings with leaders in Asia, canceling stops in Malaysia and the Philippines because of the shutdown.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a New York Democrat, said it’s up to House Republicans to consider the Senate’s stopgap measure, which is free of add-ons.

“If John Boehner held a vote today, he would have bipartisan support, Democrats and Republicans, to vote for allowing the government to stay open,” Gillibrand said on MSNBC today. “That’s what they should do.”

Political Theater

Senate Democrats have kept sending back the House’s plans, rejecting the ideas as political theater and insisting that Republicans fund the whole government temporarily and stop demanding major changes in Obama’s Affordable Care Act. Obama had harsh words for the Republicans, saying they had “demanded ransom just for doing their job” of passing a budget.

The shutdown coincided with the first day of enrollment for the health-care law, as new exchanges tried to handle a of flood of consumer interest. Republicans called computer glitches a sign the measure, passed in 2010, isn’t workable. Obama said the demand shows the law -- which House Republicans have sought to defund or delay -- is important and popular.

On the House floor, Republicans offered three bills yesterday that would reopen parks and the Department of Veterans Affairs and allow Washington’s city government to spend its money. The move was designed to blunt some of the most visible effects of the shutdown and force Democrats to choose between popular programs and their insistence on a full resumption of government funding.

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