President Barack Obama met Republican and Democratic leaders in Congress on Wednesday to try to break a budget deadlock that has shut wide swathes of the federal government, but there was no breakthrough.
After more than an hour of talks, House Speaker John Boehner said Obama refused to negotiate, while House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate majority leader Harry Reid accused Republicans of trying to hold the president hostage over his health care legislation.
I am exasperated with the idea that unless I say to 20 million people, 'You can't have health insurance,' these folks will not reopen the government. That is irresponsible.
Reid said Obama told Republicans "he will not stand" for their tactics.
The White House later issued a statement saying that Obama remains hopeful that "common sense will prevail."
There was little to encourage hope for a quick solution to the two-day-old shutdown and hundreds of thousands of federal employees remained off the job without pay.
Leaders of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives and the Democratic-led Senate offered token concessions that were quickly dismissed by the other side. Obama, meanwhile, scaled back a long-planned trip to Asia.
Republicans have tried to tie continued government funding to measures that would undercut Obama's signature healthcare law. Obama and his Democrats say that is a non-starter.
"The president reiterated one more time that he will not negotiate," Boehner told reporters after the White House meeting. "All we're asking for here is a discussion and fairness for the American people under Obamacare."
Reid said Democrats were willing to discuss any way to tackle the budget after a temporary funding bill is passed.
"We're through playing these little games," he said. "My friend John Boehner ... cannot take yes for an answer."
"Am I exasperated? Absolutely I'm exasperated. Because this is entirely unnecessary," Obama told CNBC television in an interview before meeting the congressional leaders. "I am exasperated with the idea that unless I say to 20 million people, 'You can't have health insurance,' these folks will not reopen the government. That is irresponsible."
Source: Aljazeera And Agencies