The political impasse that shut down the US government entered its fifth day today without showing any signs of abating, with Republicans launching a furious counter-attack on the White House.
The crisis, that erupted after Democrats and Republicans failed to agree on President Barack Obama's signature healthcare law, left hundreds of thousands of federal workers on furlough and museums and national parks across the country closed. House Republican leaders and the White House sought to reassure workers that they will be paid when the shutdown ends but resolving the crisis remains a politically difficult task since both sides see broader strategic implications to the outcome.
The House of Representatives prepared for today's session but with no expectations of progress on either the shutdown or a measure to raise the nation's USD 16.7 trillion debt ceiling. Congress must act by October 17 in order to avoid a government debt default.
Republican House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner, following the meeting with his party colleagues, offered no clue as to how he intends to resolve the problem.
"We are locked in an epic battle," Boehner told his Congressional colleague urging them to hang tough.
"This isn't some damn game," Boehner told reporters.
"The American people don't want their government shut down, and neither do I. All we're asking for is to sit down and have a discussion and to bring fairness to the American people under Obamacare. It's as simple as that. But, it all has to begin with a simple discussion," he said.
The White House said it would not negotiate till the Republicans took steps to end the government shutdown. This among other things is affecting its capabilities to monitor Iran sanctions.
Indian-American Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, a member of the Republican Party, said the shutdown "is an example of the dysfunction" in Washington DC.
Another Indian-American Republican party leader and South Carolina Governor, Nikki Haley, wrote on her Facebook page that it's "inexcusable" the government shut down and blamed a "complete lack of leadership" on Obama's part.
"We are seeing a complete lack of leadership. A leader should never let it get to the point of a shutdown in a government. You call in both sides, bring them in a room for the good of the people you serve and resolve the issue.
"It is inexcusable for the President to allow this to happen in our country," Haley said.