WASHINGTON – US President Obama and Congressional leaders have failed to break a budget deadlock that has led to a partial government shutdown.
Obama held White House talks with Republican House Speaker John Boehner and Senate leader Mitch McConnell as well as their Democratic counterparts.
Boehner left the talks complaining the Democrats “will not negotiate”.
Obama said he would not set a precedent where “an extremist wing” of a party holds a government to ransom.
He told CNBC ahead of the meeting that he was “prepared to negotiate on anything” over the budget once Congress passes “a clean piece of legislation that reopens the government”.
The US government closed non-essential operations on Tuesday after Congress failed to strike a deal on a new budget.
The shutdown has left more than 700,000 employees on unpaid leave and closed national parks, tourist sites, government websites, office buildings, and more.
However, as one budget crisis raged in Washington DC, another one – potentially more dangerous – looms in the coming weeks.
On October 17, the US government will run out of cash to pay its bills unless the debt ceiling is raised.
Boehner emerged from Wednesday evening’s talks at the White House, saying it had been a “polite conversation” but yielded nothing. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell called the talks “unproductive”.
“All we’re asking for here is a discussion and fairness for the American people under Obamacare,’’ Boehner told reporters.
House Minority Leader, Democrat Nancy Pelosi, who also attended the meeting, accused the Republicans of “moving the goalposts” on the budget deal.
Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said his party were “locked in tight on Obamacare’’ and neither the president nor Democrats in Congress would accept changes to the law as the price for a deal on reopening the government.
The Republicans who control the House of Representatives have demanded concessions from Obama and his fellow Democrats in return for funding the government’s continued operation and for raising the debt ceiling. (BBC)