IMF, World Bank urge end to U.S. government shutdown

Oct. 13, 2013 at 12:54 PM
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WASHINGTON, Oct. 13 (UPI) -- World finance ministers and central bank governors urged the United States to do everything possible to raise the debt ceiling and end the government shutdown.

Annual meetings for the International Monetary Fund and World Bank ended Saturday, and the U.S. government's current impasse was front in center in discussions.

The Group of 20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors said "the United States needs to take urgent action to address short-term fiscal uncertainties."

Tharman Shanmugaratnam, chairman of the IMF, said there was "clearly room for improvement" in the way the U.S. Congress has handled the debates.

"If we don't get clear resolution of the U.S. fiscal deficit and debt issue, it is going to be hard to see how confidence is going to come back anywhere, so it's a critical issue," he said.

Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., had met on Saturday and planned to meet again Sunday to discuss the current impasse, although there were no indications a significant breakthrough was on the horizon.

"I hope that our talking is some solace to the American people and the world," Reid said on Saturday.

The House of Representatives was not in session Sunday and the White House had no meetings scheduled, although The New York Times said it was presumed President Obama would be available to confer with lawmakers if needed.

"There's a will among all three parties -- the president, Senate Democrats and Senate Republicans," said Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y. "Now we'll see if there's a way."

The Times said the spotlight shifted to the Democrat-controlled Senate after negotiations between the president and the Republican-dominated House stalled. Obama wants legislation that will resume government operations and lift the debt ceiling, but is free of GOP provisions blocking funding of healthcare reform.

The Times said even if Reid and McConnell strike a deal, the House might not go along with it if it does not include a rollback of the controversial "Obamacare" program. "Senate Republicans don't run the Senate," pointed out Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., "So we're not taking our lead from them."

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