(BALI, Indonesia) — Walking a fine line between shaming House Republicans and reassuring the world that the U.S. economy will survive, Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters in Bali that the government shutdown is damaging foreign policy efforts — but only for the moment.
“I am absolutely confident that when we get this moment of political silliness behind us, we will be back on track, that the world will respect and want to be part of,” Kerry said Saturday in Indonesia, where he was attending meetings at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit.
President Obama was scheduled to attend next week but canceled his trip to stay in Washington while Republicans and Democrats negotiate off and on over how to fund the federal government and bring roughly 800,000 furloughed employees back to work.
Pointing a finger at Republicans who have refused to fund the government if it means allowing provisions of the Affordable Care Act to take effect, Kerry said the president will miss the summit to address a domestic challenge “presented to him by a small group of people within one branch of the United States Congress.”
Missing the trip because of the shutdown “obviously undermines the president’s ability to have the conversation he was going to have with [Chinese] President Xi [Jinping] … or the meeting he was going to have with President Putin, all of which are important to the conduct of global affairs,” Kerry said.
The Obama administration has previously stated a desire to “pivot” its diplomatic focus toward Asia. Obama’s cancellation of a major trip to Asia has been seen my some as hurting that effort.
The State Department has griped about the government shutdown all week, pointing to negative editorials written about the U.S. in foreign press and telling reporters the shutdown has prevented the Treasury and the State Department from being able to fully enforce economic sanctions against Iran and Syria.
At the same time, Kerry reassured world leaders that the shutdown will only have a “momentary” effect and that the U.S. economy is not in danger.
“This will end and the United States will have a budget. And the United States will still be the strongest power in the world, in terms of our military capacity, largest economy in the world, an economy that is now increasingly stronger by the day,” Kerry said.
“We all know that we will get beyond this moment, and we will get beyond it quickly,” Kerry said.
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