President Barack Obama has called off his long-planned trip to Asia next week due to the government shutdown, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney announced late Thursday.
The four-country, seven-day trip to Indonesia, Brunei, Malaysia and the Philippines focused on economic and regional security matters had already been shortened to just the first two countries after the White House was prevented from deploying advance staffers to Malaysia and the Philippines once the shutdown began on Tuesday. Obama called the leaders of all four countries before announcing his decision, and Secretary of State John Kerry will take the president’s place next week.
“The President made this decision based on the difficulty in moving forward with foreign travel in the face of a shutdown, and his determination to continue pressing his case that Republicans should immediately allow a vote to reopen the government,” Carney said in a statement, blaming House Republicans for the situation. “This completely avoidable shutdown is setting back our ability to create jobs through promotion of U.S. exports and advance U.S. leadership and interests in the largest emerging region in the world.”
Carrying out the trip would have opened Obama to further criticism from Republicans that he is not engaging them in negotiations to reopen the government.