The political impasse behind the US government shutdown showed no signs of abating as it entered its fifth day on Saturday with President Barack Obama asking the opposition to pass the federal budget with no strings attached and refusing to "pay a ransom" to end the crisis.
Warning that an economic shutdown with debt default would be "dramatically worse", Obama said in his weekly address, "There's only one way out of this reckless and damaging shutdown: pass a budget that funds our government, with no partisan strings attached."
Making it clear that he would not back down, Obama warned, "For as reckless as a government shutdown is, an economic shutdown that comes with default would be dramatically worse."
Appealing to the opposition to end the deadlock, Obama said, "Take that vote. Stop this farce. End this shutdown now."
The House of Representatives prepared for today's session but with no expectations of progress on either the shutdown which began on Tuesday 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.
Obama said the Americans "don't get to demand ransom in exchange for doing their job. Neither does Congress. They don't get to hold our democracy or our economy hostage over a settled law. They don't get to kick a child out of Head Start if I don't agree to take her parents' health insurance away. That's not how our democracy is supposed to work." "That's why I won't pay a ransom in exchange for reopening the government. And I certainly won't pay a ransom in exchange for raising the debt ceiling," Obama said.
The US government closed non-essential operations after Congress failed to strike a deal on spending and budget due to differences over 'Obamacare', the signature healthcare programme of President Obama. Republicans and Democrats are blaming each other for the impasse.
The shutdown has left nearly 800,000 employees on unpaid leave and closed national parks, tourist sites, official websites, office buildings, and more establishments.
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 colleagues urging them to act tough.
"This isn't some damn game," Boehner told reporters.