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US locked in political impasse; shutdown enters second week

"I will not eliminate any topic of conversation, and I've shown myself willing to engage all the parties involved, any leader on the issue," Obama said at a hastily arranged news conference at the White House Tuesday with an Oct 17 debt default deadline looming.


A supporter of US President Barack Obama displays a placard in front of the White House on October 8, 2013. Pic: AFP

The only thing I will say is that we're not going to pay a ransom for America paying its bills. That's something that should be non-negotiable," he said. "Let's lift these threats from our families and our businesses and let's get down to work," Obama said chiding Republicans for their tactics in dealing with the twin issues.

Failing to raise the debt ceiling "would be dramatically worse" than a government shutdown and posed a "very significant risk" of a deep recession, Obama warned.

Shortly after the president spoke, John Boehner, Speaker of the Republican controlled House rejected Obama's offer saying, "The long and short of it is there's going to be a negotiation here."

"At times like this the American people expect their leaders to sit down and have a conversation. I want that conversation to occur now," he said.

"What the president said today was if there's unconditional surrender by Republicans, he'll sit down and talk to us," Boehner said calling the president's position "unsustainable."

The way to resolve differences over raising the nation's debt limit is "to sit down and have a conversation to resolve our differences." He said there's never been a president who hasn't negotiated on the debt limit.

While the Republicans have sought to defund, dismantle or at least delay Obama's signature healthcare law as the price for passing the budget or raising the US debt limit, the President challenged Boehner to bring a no-strings-attached "clean" spending bill for a vote on the House floor.

Until Boehner does that, Obama said, "there's going to be a cloud over US economic credibility."

Meanwhile, a CNN survey of House members indicated that there may be just enough votes in the House to approve a "clean" bill to reopen the federal government.

The survey found all 200 Democrats and 17 Republicans support passing a continuing resolution with no strings attached that would reopen the government.

With two vacancies in the 435 member House, 217 is the minimum number of votes needed for the measure to win approval in the House.

But such a vote is unlikely to happen anytime soon because Republicans have not indicated a willingness to try to force Boehner to put such a resolution to vote in the House, CNN said.

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