(Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON -- For the first time in nearly two decades, the federal government staggered into a partial shutdown early this 'morning after congressional Republicans stubbornly demanded changes in the nation's health care law as the price for essential federal funding.
President Barack Obama and Democrats adamantly refused to budge.
As Congress gridlocked, Obama said a "shutdown will have a very real economic impact on real people, right away," with hundreds of thousands of federal workers furloughed and veterans' centers, national parks, most of the space agency and other government operations shuttered.
He 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."