1 October 2013, 09:34

'Congress has not fulfilled its responsibility, it has failed to pass budget' - Obama addresses troops on shutdown impact

Barack Obama

Barack Obama

Barack Obama

US President Barack Obama told US troops in a video message early Tuesday that they would still get paid on time, despite a government shutdown. 

Obama earlier signed emergency legislation ensuring that wages would continue for service members, despite much of the government shutting down after Congress failed to defuse a huge federal funding row.

"Unfortunately, Congress has not fulfilled its responsibility, it has failed to pass a budget," said Obama, in the message broadcast on the Armed Forces Broadcasting network.

"If you are serving in harm's way we are going to make sure you have what you need to complete your missions."

"The threats to our national security have not changed, and we need you to be ready for any contingency," Obama said.

The president warned however that many non essential civilian contractors, unlike their colleagues in uniform, would not be paid.

"I know the days ahead could mean more uncertainty, including possible furloughs, and I know this comes on top of the furloughs that many of you already endured this summer," Obama said.

"You and your families deserve better than the dysfunction we're seeing in Congress."

"I will keep working to get Congress to reopen our government and get you back to work as soon as possible."

US budget deadline passes, White House orders government agencies to begin shutting down

The White House budget director late Monday ordered federal agencies to begin closing down after Congress failed to pass a budget to avert a government shutdown.

"Agencies should now execute plans for an orderly shutdown due to the absence of appropriations," said Sylvia Mathews Burwell, director Of the White House Office of Management and Budget in a memo.

Oil prices slip as US slides into government shutdown

Oil prices eased in Asian trade Tuesday as the US government began shutting down for the first time in 17 years following a gridlock in Congress over a new budget.

New York's main contract, West Texas Intermediate for delivery in November, fell 30 cents to $102.03 in afternoon trade, while Brent North Sea crude for November dipped 60 cents to $107.77.

With the midnight deadline passing in Washington without any agreement the White House ordered federal agencies to initiate their shutdown procedures, which will see more than 800,000 non-essential federal workers placed on unpaid leave.

The government shutdown will "result in the decrease in demand for oil in the world's top oil consumer, pressuring prices, as hundreds of thousands of government employees would be forced to stay home without any pay", Teoh Say Hwa, head of investment at Phillip Futures in Singapore, said in a note.

Crude prices were also under pressure following landmark contact between Iran and the United States, which could possibly lead to an easing of Western sanctions on the crude producer and allow it to export oil more freely.

Iran's economy has been crippled by a series of UN and US sanctions aimed at bringing an end to its nuclear programme, which the West claims is being used to develop nuclear weapons.

Iran denies the assertion."Going forward, if sanctions are eased, resulting in increasing exports from Iran, oil prices will continue to be pressured," Teoh said.

US Senate to kill latest House funding plan on Tuesday - Reid

With a government shutdown under way, the US Senate on Tuesday planned to recess until 9:30 a.m. (1330 GMT), at which time Democrats will formally reject the House of Representatives' latest offer for funding the government.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat, announced the recess, as Congress had no apparent plan for dealing with the first federal shutdown in 17 years because of lawmakers' inability to reach a budget deal for the fiscal year that began on Tuesday.

US Senate Democrats reject negotiation 'with gun to our head'

US Senate Democrats late on Monday rejected a last-ditch proposal by House of Representatives Republicans to establish a negotiating panel to work out a deal on an emergency spending bill and quickly end a looming government shutdown.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he would not enter such a negotiation "with a gun to our head" as government funding was running out in less than one hour. Reid called on Republicans to instead pass a Senate-approved measure that would keep the government funded through November 15.

While a government shutdown now seemed inevitable, some House Republicans were predicting that their leaders eventually will relent and allow a straight-forward extension of federal funding without add-ons, such as changes to Obamacare.

US House Republicans to seek special panel on spending bill

US House of Representatives Republicans, in a bid to break the logjam over an emergency spending bill, are expected to seek the creation of a bipartisan negotiating panel with the Senate, according to a senior Republican aide.

But it was not clear whether Senate Democrats would accept the offer. Furthermore, such a panel could not meet before a midnight ET (0400 GMT) government shutdown deadline, almost certainly assuring that agencies will have to curtail operations on Tuesday.

US Senate again rejects House Republican spending bill

For the second time on Monday, the US Senate rejected an emergency funding bill approved by theHouse of Representatives that would have made major changes to the Obamacare healthcare law.

By a vote of 54-46, Democrats in the Senate rejected the Obamacare changes and again sent back to the House a straight-forward bill to keep the US government operating beyond Monday.

Without a deal on government funding between the Republican-controlled House and Democratic-led Senate, many federal agencies will begin shutting down operations on Tuesday with the start of a new fiscal year.

US House passes emergency funding bill despite veto threat

The Republican-led US House of Representatives late on Monday approved another emergency funding bill that the Democratic-led Senate is certain to reject, moving the government closer to a Tuesday shutdown.

By a mostly partisan vote of 228-201, the House passed the measure and sent it to the Senate where new Obamacare provisions included in the bill are expected to be killed.

If the two chambers cannot agree within the next few hours on legislation to provide government funding, agencies will begin shutting many programs on Tuesday, the start of the new fiscal year.

Obama calls congressional leaders as shutdown deadline draws closer

President Barack Obama placed separate calls to congressional leaders on Monday evening as a deadline for a government shutdown drew closer, a White House official said.

Obama called Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell,House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner, and House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, the official said.

Obama says government shutdown still preventable

US President Barack Obama said on Monday a government shutdown was entirely preventable and accused Republicans in the House of Representatives of manufacturing a crisis that would hurt the economy and citizens across the country.

"A shutdown will have a very real economic impact on real people right away," Obama told reporters at the White House.

Obama said his hope and expectation was that lawmakers would still do the right thing and prevent a shutdown.

- President Obama delivers statement on impending government shutdown: LIVE UPDATES

President Obama’s remarks on the looming government shutdow: full transcript

Good afternoon, everybody.

Of all the responsibilities the Constitution endows to Congress, two should be fairly simple: Pass a budget, and pay America's bills. But if the United States Congress does not fulfill its responsibility to pass a budget today, much of the United States government will be forced to shut down tomorrow. And I want to be very clear about what that shutdown would mean, what will remain open and what will not.

With regard to operations that will continue, if you're on Social Security, you will keep receiving your checks. If you're on Medicare, your doctor will still see you. Everyone's mail will still be delivered, and government operations related to national security or public safety will go on.

Our troops will continue to serve with skill, honor and courage. Air traffic controllers, prison guards, those who are with border control - Border Patrol will remain on their posts, but their paychecks will be delayed until the government reopens.

NASA will shut down almost entirely, but Mission Control will remain open to support the astronauts serving on the space station.

I also want to be very clear about what would change. Office buildings would close. Paychecks would be delayed. Vital services that seniors and veterans, women and children, businesses and our economy depend on would be hamstrung. Business owners would see delays in raising capital, seeking infrastructure permits or rebuilding after Hurricane Sandy.

Veterans, who've sacrificed for their country, will find their support centers unstaffed.

Tourists will find every one of America's national parks and monuments, from Yosemite to the Smithsonian to the Statue of Liberty, immediately closed. And of course the communities and small business that rely on these national treasures for their livelihoods will be out of customers and out of luck.

And in keeping with the broad ramifications of a shutdown, I think it's important that everybody understands the federal government is America's largest employer. More than 2 million civilian workers and 1.4 million active duty military serve in all 50 states and all around the world.

In the event of a government shutdown, hundreds of thousands of these dedicated public servants who stay on the job will do so without pay. And several hundred thousand more will be immediately and indefinitely furloughed without pay. What, of course, will not be furloughed are the bills that they have to pay: their mortgages, their tuition payments, their car notes. These Americans are our neighbors. Their kids go to our schools. They worship where we do. They serve their country with pride. They are the customers of every business in this country. And they would be hurt greatly, and as a consequence all of us will be hurt greatly, should Congress choose to shut the people's government down.

So a shutdown will have a very real economic impact on real people, right away. Past - past shutdowns have disrupted the economy significantly. This one would too. It would throw a wrench into the gears of our economy at a time when those gears have gained some traction.

Voice of Russia, AFP, Reuters, Washington Post

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