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The shutdown comes as the US Congress appears to be deadlocked on a temporary spending bill that would have ensured federal operations continue normally. Congress had until a September 30 deadline to break the deadlock, but they couldn’t overcome partisan differences.
On Tuesday afternoon, the Obama administration rejected a last-ditch effort by Republicans to reopen some offices and departments of the US government.
Both sides have settled in to trading accusations across the aisle.
US President Obama has accused the Republican party of waging a crusade against his policies, particularly the issue of universal healthcare.
“They’ve shut down the government over an ideological crusade to deny affordable health insurance to millions of Americans. In other words, they demanded ransom just for doing their job,” Obama said at during midday White House event.
For many Americans, the budget battle is a case of deja-vu.
On December 31, more than a decade of tax cuts, including the 2009 stimulus tax and the Social Security payroll tax, nearly completely expired had both parties not reached a deal on resolving most but not all of the issues that had created a budget crisis dubbed the fiscal cliff.
Although in technical terms the US did “go over the cliff”, the deal reached by the Obama Administration and Republicans ensures that the negative impact on American taxpayers was minimised.
But this month’s shutdown – the worst fiscal crisis in 17 years – is likely to get worse before it is resolved. Most of Washington was preparing for the shutdown Tuesday as all non-essential services were closed or suspended. Only the police, military, air-traffic controllers and other essential operations will continue to work as normal.