Asia trip is now fully cancelled...
UPDATE, Oct.3: The President's entire trip has been cancelled; WH statement below
Washington, DC - The White House announced on Wednesday that President Barack Obama is cancelling half of his planned four-country trip to Asia that begins this weekend, due to the logistical problems of the government shutdown.
The President is scheduled to depart for his trip this Saturday, and he will still visit Indonesia and Brunei, but he will not make stops in Malaysia and the Philippines. The President spoke by phone with the two nations' leaders on Tuesday night to inform them of his decision, the White House said, and promised both to visit "later in his term."
In Indonesia, the President will attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, the premier business event in the region, where Asian leaders will gather in Bali. In Brunei, he will attend the U.S.-ASEAN Summit and the East Asia Summit. He will also meet with the nations’ leaders.
National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said that the government shutdown made the Philippines and Malaysia stops impossible. Unlike the two summits, the President's visits to those nations can be rescheduled.
"Logistically, it was not possible to go ahead with these trips in the face of a government shut-down," Hayden said. "Because they are on the back end of the president’s upcoming trip, our personnel was not yet in place and we were not able to go forward with planning."
The White House is currently operating with what has been described as a "skeletal staff," and an estimated 800,000 federal employees are now on furlough. Secretary of State John Kerry will lead delegations to Malaysia and the Philippines in place of the President, the White House said.
Hayden repeated the Administration's attacks on House Republicans, blaming them for impacting foreign trade and threatening national security.
"This completely avoidable shutdown is setting back our ability to promote U.S. exports and advance U.S. leadership in the largest emerging region in the world. A faction of House Republicans are doing whatever they can to deny America from carrying out our exceptional role in the world," Hayden said.
Hayden hinted that perhaps the rest of the President's trip will be cancelled: The White House will be continue to evaluate the visits to Indonesia and Brunei "based on how events develop" this week, she said. Congress currently seems a long way away from approving legislation that will end the shutdown.
For his visits in place of the President, Sec. Kerry will be joined by a delegation that includes Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker and U.S. Trade Representative Mike Froman. In Malaysia, they will attend the Global Entrepreneurship Summit, which would have been the centerpiece of the President's visit to the country.
The reduction in the President's trip schedule
comes as he has been trying to pivot policy more toward Asia
because of the growing economic importance of the region, and because of the economic rise of China and the resulting tensions. China’s President Xi Jinping will be attending the APEC summit as he tries to gain a larger foothold with Southeast Asian economies.
is the third time a planned presidential trip to Asia has been changed
due to domestic issues. In March of 2010, President Obama postponed a
trip to Indonesia and Australia as he battled for his signature health
care legislation. And in June of the same year he again postponed the
trip due to the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
the President has also cancelled his keynote address at the Congressional
Hispanic Caucus Institute's annual gala in Washington, DC, scheduled for
Wednesday night. Today he will meet with members of the Financial Services Forum at the White House.
On Thursday, the President is scheduled to visit a construction company in Washington, DC, where he will make remarks on the economy.
The White House issued readouts of the President's Tuesday night phone calls with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak
of Malaysia and President Benigno Aquino of the Philippines to inform
them of his decision.
The White House readout of the call to PM Najib:
"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.
The White House readout of the call to President 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."
*UPDATE, OCT. 3: Press Secretary Jay Carney released the following statement about the cancellation of the President's entire trip:
"Due to the government shut-down, President Obama’s travel to Indonesia and Brunei has been cancelled. 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. Secretary Kerry will lead delegations to both countries in place of the President.
The cancellation of this trip is another consequence of the House Republicans forcing a shutdown of the government. 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. The President looks forward to continuing his work with our allies and partners in the Asia-Pacific and to returning to the region at a later date."
CLICK HERE for links to all posts about the government shutdown.
*Photo by Pete Souza/White House