US hours away from government shutdown

usmanhashmi

WASHINGTON: US President Barack Obama on Monday prepared Americans for what he called an “entirely preventable” government shutdown while urging Republicans in Congress to reach an 11th-hour deal to avoid economic harm.

With no apparent movement in negotiations, the White House prepared to put in place a skeleton staff on Tuesday to operate essential functions like the National Security Council. Many staff were preparing for furloughs of uncertain length.

And Obama’s own plans seemed up in the air. He is scheduled to leave Saturday on a four-nation, week-long tour to Asia, but a shutdown could force a postponement.

“We have this trip scheduled, and we intend to take it,” said White House spokesman Jay Carney. “You know, we’ll see obviously what happens as the week unfolds.”

Hours before a shutdown was to begin, Obama placed phone calls to the two top congressional Republicans, House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner and…

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