Some 800,000 federal workers in the US will remain at home while national parks,museums,government buildings and services have shutdown as a result of the deadlock in the Congress over President Barack Obama’s signature health care law.
The Obama administration and the Republican-controlled House of Representatives had come close to failing to finance the government in the past but had always reached a last-minute deal to head off a disruption in government services.
In the hours leading up to the October 1 deadline,House Republican leaders won approval,in a vote of 228 to 201,of a new plan to tie further government spending to a one-year delay in a requirement that individuals buy health insurance.
The impasse in the US Congress meant that 800,000 federal workers were to be furloughed and more than a million others would be asked to work without pay,US media reports said on the federal shutdown,the first in nearly 18 years.
The Congress has a major duty in the Constitution pass spending bills that fund the government. If it does not,most functions of government from funding agencies to paying out small business loans grinds to a halt.
Key services,like Social Security,air traffic control and military pay continue to be funded.
The health care law is not directly tied to funding the government,but it is being used as a bargaining chip,CNN reported.
A group of Republicans,led by Senator Ted Cruz of Texas,believe Obama’s signature domestic policy achievement is so bad for America that it is worth disrupting government funding to undercut it.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act,the actual name of the Obamacare law,requires all Americans to have health insurance.
Opponents say it will hurt employers and amounts to overreach by the federal government. Some have also criticised the medical device tax that’s part of the law,saying that by imposing such a tax,it is basically sending jobs overseas.
The impact of the shutdown on US economy will depend on how long it lasts.
If it is just a few days,the hit might not be severe. But three or four weeks? “(That) would do significant economic damage” — reducing GDP by 1.4 percentage points for the quarter,CNN quoted Mark Zandi,chief economist and co-founder of Moody’s Analytics.