'This isn't some damn game': Tempers fray in US enters fifth day of government shutdown

Republicans and Democrats continue to blame each other as shutdown crisis worsens

The shutdown of the American government began to have global implications today as President Barack Obama cancelled plans to attend economic summit meetings in Asia so that he could focus on trying to end the increasingly fractious budget stand-off at home.

With most federal agencies emptied of employees for a fourth day, there was meanwhile scant sign of progress. Republican House Speaker John Boehner erupted at a news conference at what he perceived as political arrogance on the part of the White House as the crisis deepens. “This isn’t some damn game,” he said.

While Mr Obama had little choice but to pull out of both the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (Apec) summit in Bali on Monday and the subsequent East Asia summit in Brunei, the cost to the US could be high both in terms of economic outreach to the region and in terms of urgent diplomacy. Among those he had been expected to meet was President Vladimir Putin of Russia to take stock of progress on Syria.

“We are disappointed that there will be no meeting,” Mr Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told a Russian news agency last night. “There is a great need in our bilateral relations for a dialogue at the highest level.” John Kerry, the Secretary of State, will stand in for Mr Obama at the two meetings.

The White House swiftly blamed the Republicans for the pullout by the President, who had originally been set to visit the Philippines and Indonesia on the same trip. “This completely avoidable shutdown is setting back our ability to create jobs through promotion of US exports and advance US leadership and interests in the largest emerging region in the world,” said the White House spokesman, Jay Carney.

US officials have also withdrawn from free trade deal talks with the EU due to take place in Belgium next week.

Mr Boehner took public umbrage at a comment attributed in the Wall Street Journal to a senior administration official apparently saying “it doesn’t matter how long” the shutdown goes on, because “we’re winning”. In tones of high indignation, the Speaker responded: “This isn’t some damn game. The American people don’t want their government shut down, and neither do I.”

Democrats make no secret of their belief that most of the blame for the shutdown is being placed on the Republican leadership, which has, to a large part, been pushed into attaching conditions on a deal to both ending the shutdown and accepting an increase in the amount of money the government can borrow to pay its bills, known as the debt ceiling.

The Treasury says it will run out of money by 17 October. In particular, the Tea Party wing of the Republicans has been determined to delay or at least partially de-fund the healthcare reform programme known as Obamacare which has actually come into being for most Americans this month.

“It’s very hard to negotiate with the Republicans when they can’t negotiate with themselves,” Nancy Pelosi, the Democrat Minority Leader in the House, quipped last night.

While he continues to take a hard line in public, Mr Boehner has indicated to Republican colleagues privately that he will seek a deal at least on the debt ceiling, without which the US could find itself defaulting on its debt. With the issues of the budget and debt ceiling increasingly becoming conflated in Washington, that would indicate that no deal on either issue is likely to come before the middle of the month.

News
peopleHowards' Way actress, and former mistress of Jeffrey Archer, was 60
Sport
Romelu Lukaku puts pen to paper
sport
News
Robyn Lawley
people
Arts and Entertainment
Unhappy days: Resistance spy turned Nobel prize winner Samuel Beckett
books
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
people
Life and Style
Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson voice the show’s heroes
gamingOnce stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover
News
i100
Life and Style
Phones will be able to monitor your health, from blood pressure to heart rate, and even book a doctor’s appointment for you
techCould our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?
News
people
Extras
indybest
Travel
Ryan taming: the Celtic Tiger carrier has been trying to improve its image
travelRyanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?
Sport
Usain Bolt confirms he will run in both the heats and the finals of the men's relay at the Commonwealth Games
commonwealth games
Life and Style
Slim pickings: Spanx premium denim collection
fashionBillionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers 'thigh-trimming construction'
News
Sabina Altynbekova has said she wants to be famous for playing volleyball, not her looks
people
News
i100
Life and Style
tech'World's first man-made leaves' could use photosynthesis to help astronauts breathe
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SAP Project Manager

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP PROJECT MANAGER - 3 MONTHS - BERKSHI...

SAP Project Manager

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP PROJECT MANAGER - 3 MONTHS - BERKSHI...

Senior Investment Accounting Change Manager

£600 - £700 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Senior Investment Accounting Change...

Microsoft Dynamics AX Functional Consultant

£65000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: A rare opportun...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

Commonwealth Games

David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star