The political impasse in the US Congress showed no signs of easing, leaving federal government functions — from informational websites, to national parks, to processing veterans' claims — in limbo from coast to coast. Lawmakers in both parties ominously suggested the partial shutdown might last for weeks.
A funding cutoff for much of the government began on Tuesday as a Republican effort to kill or delay the nation's healthcare law stalled action on a short-term, traditionally routine spending bill. Republicans pivoted to a strategy to try to reopen the government piecemeal but were unable to immediately advance the idea in the House of Representatives.
National parks like Yellowstone and Alcatraz Island were shuttered, government websites went dark and hundreds of thousands of nonessential workers reported for a half-day to fill out time cards, hand in their government cellphones and laptops, and change voicemail messages to gird for a deepening shutdown.
President Barack Obama also cancelled two stops on his long-planned trip to Asia because of the shutdown.
About 800,000 employees —about a third of the federal workforce — are being forced off the job in the first government shutdown in 17 years, suspending nonessential federal program-mes and services. People classified as essential employees — air traffic controllers, Border Patrol agents and most food inspectors — will continue to work.
Even as many government agencies closed their doors, health insurance exchanges that are at the core of Obama's healthcare law were up and running, taking applications for coverage that would start January 1. “Shutting down our government doesn't accomplish their stated goal,” Obama said of his Republican opponents at a Rose Garden event hailing implementation of the law. “The Affordable Care Act is a law that passed the House; it passed the Senate. The Supreme Court ruled it constitutional. It was a central issue in last year's election. It is settled, and it is here to stay. And because of its funding sources, it's not impacted by a government shutdown.” Obama accused Republicans of causing the shutdown as part of a non-stop “ideological crusade” to wipe out his signature law.
Republican leaders faulted the Democratic-led Senate