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Obama rejects House Republican debt plan, shutdown continues

October 15, 2013 22:15 IST

Efforts to end the US government shutdown and avoid a debt default before the October 17 deadline remained elusive as the White House on Tuesday dismissed the latest House Republican proposal to resolve the impasse, alleging it was tantamount to "ransom".

"The President has said repeatedly that Members of Congress don't get to demand ransom for fulfilling their basic responsibilities to pass a budget and pay the nation's bills," said White House spokeswoman Amy Brundage.

"Unfortunately, the latest proposal from House Republicans does just that in a partisan attempt to appease a small group of Tea Party Republicans who forced the government shutdown in the first place," she said.

Democrats and Republicans in the Senate were working in a "bipartisan, good-faith effort to end the manufactured crises" that have harmed families and business owners, she said. With only a couple of days remaining until the US exhausts its borrowing authority, it is time for the House to do the same, she added.

President Barack Obama was scheduled to meet the House Democrat leadership, including Nancy Pelosi, later in the day to chalk out their next course of action.

Earlier, House Republicans in a closed-door meeting announced a plan to keep the government open until January 15, 2014 and lift the debt ceiling by February 7.

The plan under discussion would raise the $16.7 trillion debt ceiling by enough to cover the nation's borrowing needs at least through mid-February.

Simultaneously, the legislation would also delay the 'Obamacare' tax on medical devices for two years; cancel health-insurance subsidies for members of Congress, the President, Vice President and the cabinet; and beef up income verification requirements for Affordable Care Act subsidies.

"Our leadership team met with our members today trying to find a way forward in a bipartisan way that would continue to provide fairness to the American people under Obamacare. There are a lot of opinions about what direction to go. There have been no decisions about what exactly we will do," John Boehner, Speaker of the House of Representatives said.

"But we're going to continue to work with our members on both sides of the aisle to try to make sure that there is no issue of default, and to reopen our government," he said.

Lalit K Jha in Washington
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