US shutdown: President Obama vows not to give in to 'ideological crusade' as budget impasse forces 800,000 people off work

Republicans and Democrats have failed to agree the budget for federal agencies, forcing non-essential workers on unpaid leave

New York, Los Angeles

The US awoke to find its federal government in a partial shutdown, putting an estimated 800,000 people out of work until the squabble over spending in Congress can be resolved. Washington’s partisan gridlock triggered the shutdown early in the morning, with Republicans and Democrats failing to agree a deal to keep federal agencies funded past a midnight deadline.

With no budget, the US government has no choice but to send its non-essential workers on unpaid leave, affecting agencies as varied as the Justice Department, the National Parks Service and the Pentagon in the first shutdown for 17 years.

President Barack Obama was scathing in his assessment of the situation, blaming Republicans for an “ideological crusade” aimed at his healthcare programme and urging lawmakers to keep government operations running without conditions. “As long as I am President, I will not give in to reckless demands by some in the Republican Party to deny affordable health insurance to millions of hard-working Americans,” he said.

Across the country, from the Statue of Liberty to the Grand Canyon, national parks closed to visitors. Nasa’s mission control in Houston is still supporting US astronauts aboard the International Space Station, but the remainder of the agency’s staff were sent home. Air traffic controllers, prison guards and border patrol agents continued to work, but even their pay may dry up if the shutdown drags on.

According to the White House, a one-week shutdown would cost the US economy about $10bn (£6.2bn). Earlier Mr Obama warned it would throw “a wrench into the gears of our economy at a time when those gears have gained some traction”.

“Hundreds of thousands of these dedicated public servants who stay on the job will do so without pay,” the President said. “And several hundred thousand more will be immediately and indefinitely furloughed without pay. What, of course, will not be furloughed are the bills that they have to pay – their mortgages, their tuition payments, their car notes.”

Civilian workers in the military may be sent home, but, as it became clear the shutdown would go ahead, Mr Obama signed a law protecting active-duty servicemen from its effects.

Congress had until midnight on Monday to agree on a stopgap budget to keep the money flowing to government departments into the new fiscal year, which began today. But Republicans in the House of Representatives refused to countenance any measure that left the President’s signature healthcare reforms – known collectively as Obamacare – untouched.

Speaker of the House John Boehner has led the Republican side of the deadlock that has resulted in the shutdown (EPA) Speaker of the House John Boehner has led the Republican side of the deadlock that has resulted in the shutdown (EPA)  

But, under pressure from right-wing Republicans, the party’s leader in the House, Speaker John Boehner, refused to put forward a straightforward budget measure. Late on Monday, the House leadership suggested negotiating with the Senate, via a legislative process known as conference, instead of simply sending bills back and forth. The idea was rejected by the Democratic leader in the Senate, Harry Reid, who said: “We’re not going to go to conference with a gun to our head.”

As midnight loomed, the budget office put a memo out to federal agencies, directing them to “execute plans for an orderly shutdown due to the absence of appropriations”.

Polls show that the US public is likely to blame Republicans for the shutdown, and that voters disapprove of GOP tactics in trying to removes funds from Obamacare, which was passed four years ago and has since been ratified by the Supreme Court.

The focus now will be on the length of the shutdown, which senior Republicans reportedly expect to last at least a week. The longer the budget impasse in Washington, the greater the risk to economic growth.

In the event of a shutdown lasting more than a few days, lawmakers will also be under pressure to agree a deal that resolves not just the budget issue, but also the thorny question of the US debt ceiling. The government runs out of room on its Congressionally-mandated debt limit around 17 October.

If Congress fails to raise the limit on time, the US would face defaulting on its debts – an outcome that would be likely to throw world markets into a tailspin.

High demand for online Obamacare

The online healthcare market established under President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act opened for business this morning, in spite of a government shutdown brought on by the battle over the President’s signature policy, known as Obamacare.

Healthcare.gov, the federal portal through which people in most states can search for affordable health coverage, struggled to cope with the high volume of traffic, with many people experiencing delays.

The New York state healthcare exchange opened at 8am and had about two million visits in its first hour-and-a-half online.

Tim Walker

News
Patrick Stewart in the classiest ice bucket to date
people
News
The current recommendation from Britain's Chief Medical Officer, is that people refrain from drinking on at least two days a week
food + drinkTheory is that hangovers are caused by methanol poisoning
News
Australian rapper Iggy Azalea was left red faced but, thankfully, unhurt after taking a few too many steps backwards, sending her tumbling off the stage.
peopleIggy Azalea was left red faced but apparently unhurt after taking a few too many steps backwards
News
newsComedian Lee Hurst started trend with first tweet using the hashtag
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Arts and Entertainment
arts + entsWe have created an infogaphic that looks back over the previous incarnations of the Doctor
Sport
Romelu Lukaku scores during Everton's 3-0 win over Arsenal last season
LIVEFollow all the action as Everton take on Arsenal in the final Premier League game of the day
Life and Style
A nearly completed RoboThespian robot inside the Engineered Arts workshop is tested in Penryn, England. The Cornish company, operating from an industrial unit near Falmouth, is the world's only maker of commercially available life sized humanoid robots
techSuper-intelligent robots could decide destroying the human race is the kindest thing to do
News
scienceExcitement from alien hunters at 'evidence' of extraterrestrial life
News
newsRyan Crighton goes in search of the capo dei capi
Life and Style
techConcept would see planes coated in layer of micro-sensors and able to sense wear and tear
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Software Developer (Java /C# Programmer)- London

£30000 - £45000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A global investment management fi...

Senior Network Engineer-(CCIE, CCNP, Cisco, London)

£65000 - £75000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Senior Network Engineer-(CCIE, CC...

Senior Network Analyst - (CCIE, Cisco, CISSP)

£70000 - £80000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Senior Network Analyst - (CCIE, C...

Senior Network Engineer-(Design, Implementation, CCIE)

£60000 - £80000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Senior Network Engineer-(Design, ...

Day In a Page

All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
What happens to African migrants once they land in Italy during the summer?

What happens to migrants once they land in Italy?

Memphis Barker follows their trail through southern Europe
French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
Frank Mugisha: Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked

Frank Mugisha: 'Coming out was a gradual process '

Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked
Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

Radio 1’s new top ten

The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
Florence Knight's perfect picnic: Make the most of summer's last Bank Holiday weekend

Florence Knight's perfect picnic

Polpetto's head chef shares her favourite recipes from Iced Earl Grey tea to baked peaches, mascarpone & brown sugar meringues...
Horst P Horst: The fashion photography genius who inspired Madonna comes to the V&A

Horst P Horst comes to the V&A

The London's museum has delved into its archives to stage a far-reaching retrospective celebrating the photographer's six decades of creativity
Mark Hix recipes: Try our chef's summery soups for a real seasonal refresher

Mark Hix's summery soups

Soup isn’t just about comforting broths and steaming hot bowls...
Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'

Tim Sherwood column

I would have taken the Crystal Palace job if I’d been offered it soon after my interview... but the whole process dragged on so I had to pull out
Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard admits he is still below the level of Ronaldo and Messi but, after a breakthrough season, is ready to thrill Chelsea’s fans
Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition