Congress plunges US into shutdown
APWASHINGTON -- Congress plunged the U.S. government into a partial shutdown Tuesday for the first time in nearly two decades, as a conservative attempt to derail U.S. President Barack Obama's health care overhaul stalled a temporary funding bill.
October 2, 2013, 12:09 am TWN
About 800,000 federal workers are being forced off the job and most nonessential federal programs and services are being suspended, including national parks, museums in Washington and agencies like NASA and the Environmental Protection Agency.
It wasn't clear how long the standoff would last, but there were no signs of compromise. The Senate prepared to convene Tuesday morning, certain to reject the Republican-controlled House's latest version of the funding bill, which would delay key portions of the health care law.
Stock markets around the world were reacting resiliently, with analysts saying significant damage to the U.S. economy was unlikely unless the shutdown lasted more than a few days. U.S. stock futures rose Tuesday, while European stocks mostly recovered after falling the day before the shutdown deadline. Asian stocks were mixed.
The stand-off pits Democrats against a core of conservative activists who have mounted a campaign to seize the must-do budget measure in an effort to derail the 2010 health care reform, which is intended to provide coverage for the millions of Americans now uninsured.
Republicans passionately oppose the plan they have dubbed “Obamacare” as wasteful and restricting freedom by requiring most Americans to have health insurance.
A key part of the health law was taking effect Tuesday, unaffected by the shutdown. Enrollment opened for millions of people shopping for medical insurance.
Also exempt from the shutdown were people classified as essential government employees, including air traffic controllers, Border Patrol agents and most food inspectors.