President Barack Obama has canceled two planned stops on what was a planned weeklong trip to Asia, the White House said Wednesday morning, because of the ongoing federal government shutdown.
Obama will not make the final two stops of the trip in Malaysia and the Philippines. He is still scheduled to fly overseas Friday and visit Indonesia and Brunei.
The White House said that Secretary of State John Kerry would visit Malaysia and the Philippines in Obama’s place. The announcement comes as the shutdown enters into its second day with no clear end in sight.
Here’s the White House’s readout of Obama’s call to Philippine President Benigno Aquino:
Last night, President Obama called President Aquino of the Philippines to inform him that, due to the government shutdown, he will not be able to go forward with his planned travel to the Philippines. The President reaffirmed our strong alliance with the Philippines and respect for President Aquino’s leadership, and committed to travel to the Philippines later in his term. He also noted our shared commitment to the security of the Philippines, and the broader security and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific region, and told the President that Secretary Kerry would travel to Manila in his place. He also noted the deep ties between our peoples, including so many Filipino-Americans who have enriched our country.
And to Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak:
Last night, President Obama called Prime Minister Najib of Malaysia to inform him that, due to the government shutdown, he will not be able to go forward with his planned travel to Malaysia. The President reaffirmed the close partnership that he has forged with Malaysia and respect for Prime Minister Najib’s leadership, and committed to travel to Malaysia later in his term. He also welcomed Malaysia’s strong leadership of the Global Entrepreneurship Summit, and conveyed to the Prime Minister that Secretary of State Kerry would lead a U.S. delegation to Kuala Lumpur, including Secretary of Commerce Pritzker and U.S. Trade Representative Froman. Prime Minister Najib expressed his understanding and said that he looked forward to welcoming the President to Malaysia in the near future.
From the Rose Garden on Tuesday, Obama scolded Congressional Republicans and urged them to “move on” from opposition to the Affordable Care Act. He said they should pass a “clean” continuing resolution that keeps the government funded, and he also urged a clean lift in the nation’s debt ceiling.
“This shutdown is not about deficits. It’s not about budgets. This shutdown is about rolling back our efforts to provide health insurance to folks who don’t have it. It’s all about rolling back the Affordable Care Act,” Obama said.
“This, more than anything else, seems to be what the Republican Party stands for these days. I know it’s strange that one party would make keeping people uninsured the centrepiece of their agenda, but that apparently is what it is.”
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