WASHINGTON (CBSNewYork/AP) — A government shutdown has officially begun, after lawmakers failed to reach an agreement on a temporary spending plan.
The shutdown became official at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday.
In his sole response early Tuesday to Congress’ failure to avert the first shutdown in 17 years, Obama addressed his comments in a video to American troops, rather than the lawmakers he’s been scolding for weeks.
There was no reference in the three-minute video message to Republicans, whose insistence that Obama’s health care law be scaled back has been at the center of a grueling back-and-forth between the GOP-controlled House and the Democratic-led Senate.
“Unfortunately, Congress has not fulfilled its responsibility,” Obama said. “It has failed to pass a budget and, as a result, much of our government must now shut down until Congress funds it again.”
Troops in uniform in Afghanistan and elsewhere will stay on duty, Obama said, noting he’d signed a law Monday to ensure they get their paychecks on time. That GOP bill began in the House and was taken up by the Senate, reflecting a rare measure of agreement among Democrats and Republicans: No one wants to be blamed for the military not getting paid.
But thousands of civilians who work for the Defense Department face furloughs, compounding the damage already inflicted on the military by automatic spending cuts.
“I know this comes on top of the furloughs that many of you already endured this summer,” Obama said. “You and your families deserve better than the dysfunction we’re seeing in Congress.”
The deadline for a shutdown came and went at midnight Tuesday morning, after a lengthy battle between the Republican-controlled U.S. House and Democrat-controlled Senate. The House demanded a one-year delay in President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act, and an elimination of the tax on medical devices, as part of the budget agreement.
The Senate and President Obama refused three times Monday to consent to the agreement. Neither side would budge, even late into the night.
Asked whether the House could vote any time Monday on a spending bill without the Obamacare amendments, Boehner said, “That’s not going to happen,” CBS News reported.
“The American people don’t want a shutdown and neither do I,” he said before Monday night’s vote. But, he added, the new health care law “is having a devastating impact. … Something has to be done.”
Late Monday night, in a last ditch effort to end the ping-ponging between the House and Senate, House Republicans offered to setup a bipartisan conference committee to negotiate the differences between the House and Senate bills. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., rejected that proposal, saying they wouldn’t negotiate “with a gun to our head” and will continue to demand a “clean” spending bill, without Obamacare-related amendments, CBS News reported.
Earlier Monday night, President Barack Obama warned that a government shutdown would have a devastating effect on the nation’s economy, and would be detrimental to “all of us.”
“The idea of putting America’s hard-earned progress at risk is the height of irresponsibility, and it doesn’t have to happen. Let me repeat this – it does not have to happen,” Obama said.
He said the House only has to fund the government without including “extraneous and controversial” conditions such as delaying the Affordable Care Act.
Obama noted that the provisions of the Affordable Care Act will take effect on Tuesday regardless of whether the government shuts down. He said it is already in place, and “you can’t shut it down.”
President Obama Addresses The Nation: Watch
He said part of Congress’ job is to fund government and keep it running, and the House needs to do so.
“You don’t get to extract a ransom for doing your job,” Obama said.
What The Government Shutdown Means
With the shutdown now in effect, about 800,000 workers are expected to be forced off the job without pay. Some critical services such as patrolling the borders, inspecting meat and controlling air traffic are expected to continue.
On Tuesday, several federal agencies say employees will have to report to work for about an hour, during which they will be limited to doing work related to the shutdown such as changing voicemail messages, posting an out-of-office message on email, securing work stations and documents and completing time cards.
At the Environmental Protection Agency, for example, employees were told they cannot work on “any projects, tasks, activities or respond to emails.”
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development said it will close its offices at 1:30 p.m. Other agencies, such as the Labor Department, expect most employees to be gone by mid-day, but haven’t set a specific time.
Once they head home, furloughed employees are under strict orders not to do any work. That means no sneaking glances at BlackBerries or smart phones to check emails, no turning on laptop computers, no checking office voicemail, and no use of any other government-issued equipment.
Office managers are encouraging workers to leave government-issued cell phones and computers in a secure place at the office. Those employees who work from home may find it more difficult to break the habit of checking emails or looking at documents.
Employees will receive an official e-mail on Tuesday explaining whether or not they are essential or slated to be furloughed. The email will include appeal rights and a form to use for seeking unemployment insurance. Some workers may be eligible for unemployment depending where they live. Some states require a one-week waiting period before applying, while others allow workers to apply right away.
Meanwhile, national parks, including the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor, will close. Many low-to-moderate incomes borrowers and first-time homebuyers seeking government-backed mortgages could face delays.
In New York, 72,000 federal employees are expected to be out of work. Nearly 54,000 local and military members and 11,500 civilian employees are set to have their pay delayed if the shutdown lasts more than 10 days.
Aubrey Baichu of East New York said he would be searching for a new job in the event of a shutdown, CBS 2’s Hazel Sanchez reported.
“It does bring a lot of uncertainty, and if we’re furloughed, how long would we be off from work, and how many paychecks would I be missing?” he said.
Head Start Centers could also close, affecting nearly 52,000 local children.
In Connecticut, U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy said about 9,000 federal workers, including some of his own staff, could face job furloughs.
The Democrat told reporters Monday the looming shutdown could also affect the tens of thousands of private sector workers in the state whose jobs rely on federal defense contracts.
While the work won’t end, Murphy predicted it will slow down, hurting profits of major employers like helicopter-maker Sikorsky Aircraft Corp.
Social Security benefits will be sent and the Medicare and Medicaid health care programs for the elderly and poor will continue to pay doctors and hospitals. Veterans will also continue to collect benefits.
However, claims for new veterans or Social Security benefits are not to be processed and 400,000 civilian Defense Department re expected to stay home, WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell reported.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said a href=”http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2013/03/04/beach-restoration-project-fast-tracked-for-staten-island/”>Superstorm Sandy beach rebuilding efforts will continue.
Corps spokesman Ed Voigt says dredging and dune rebuilding projects are already funded and the contractors will keep working.
Voigt says the federal employees who oversee the contracts are considered essential and won’t be told to stay home if the government closes.
Voigt says there is enough funding in place to continue work for months.
The Corps and its contractors are working this year on fixing beaches damaged by Sandy last year. The plan is to build new dunes in many areas starting in 2014.
Meanwhile, the shutdown also had indirect effects on Wall Street. Stock prices plummeted as the deadline approached. CBS 2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer reported the financial effect hurts New York in a big way.
“As far as the stock market, as far as business confidence, as far as investment, it will always have a uniquely bad impact on New York, New York City, and the entire region,” said U.S. Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.)
The president and congress will not miss a paycheck in the event of a shutdown.
Since 1976, there have been 17 government shutdowns. The last one went on for 21 days from Dec. 15, 1995 to Jan. 6, 1996.
The sticking point was a disagreement over tax cuts between then-President Bill Clinton and former House speaker Newt Gingrich.
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