WASHINGTON (AP) — For the first time in nearly two decades, the federal government staggered into a partial shutdown Monday at midnight.
Congressional Republicans demanded changes in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). President Barack Obama and Democrats refused.
Hundreds of thousands of federal workers will be furloughed and veterans’ centers, national parks, most of NASA and other government operations shuttered.
Obama laid the blame at the feet of House Republicans, whom he accused of seeking to tie government funding to ideological demands, “all to save face after making some impossible promises to the extreme right wing of their party.”
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, responded a short while later on the House floor. “The American people don’t want a shutdown and neither do I,” he said. Yet, he added, the new health care law “is having a devastating impact. … Something has to be done.”
The stock market dropped on fears that political deadlock between the White House and a tea party-heavy Republican Party would prevail.
A few minutes before midnight, Budget Director Sylvia Burwell issued a directive to federal agencies to “execute plans for an orderly shutdown.” While an estimated 800,000 federal workers faced furloughs, some critical parts of the government — from the military to air traffic controllers — would remain open.