U.S. government shuttered with no fast end seen amid discord

Republican Divide

House Republicans are divided between the hard-liners insisting on confrontation over the health-care law and at least 10 others who say they would support the Senate Democrats’ spending bill, which would end the shutdown without conditions attached.

Democrats are counting on the split to force Boehner to allow a vote on that short-term spending bill, which probably would pass with the support of most Democrats and some Republicans.

“Most people view this as irresponsible and reckless with a lot of victims, including America’s economy,” said Senator Richard Durbin, an Illinois Democrat. “The moderate Republicans are starting to feel the heat. If they’ll step up, we might bring this to an end.”

Financial markets are overconfident that the stalemate will be resolved in time to avoid major economic damage, White House economic adviser Gene Sperling said yesterday.

“There is a false sense of complacency among some in the market that somehow things will be always solved at midnight,” Sperling, the director of Obama’s National Economic Council, told Bloomberg News reporters and editors.

‘Sensible People’

“Unless sensible people in the Republican Party are willing to take back control of their party,” he said, “there is a much more serious risk of a negative economic and financial event.”

The start of enrollment in the health-insurance exchanges mandated under Obama’s health-care law wasn’t stymied by the shutdown because it is financed by mandatory funding unaffected by the budget impasse.

“This shutdown is about rolling back our efforts to provide health insurance to folks who don’t have it,” Obama said at the White House yesterday. “I know it’s strange that one party would make keeping people uninsured the centerpiece of their agenda, but that apparently is what it is.”

The effects of the partial government include the closure of Internal Revenue Service call centers. Also, more than 90% of Environmental Protection Agency workers are off work.

Octogenarian veterans ignored barricades around the World War II memorial on Washington’s Mall yesterday to view the outdoor site. National parks and museums, though, will stay shuttered.

Head Start

Head Start programs covering almost 19,000 children across the country lost funding, according to Sally Aman, a spokeswoman for the Alexandria, Virginia-based National Head Start Association.

The U.S. military academies suspended intercollegiate athletics and the Bureau of Labor Statistics said it wouldn’t release on Oct. 4 the latest unemployment report if the shutdown continues. The Centers for Disease Control and NIH were among the agencies sending home many of their workers.

Other services will continue uninterrupted. Social Security and Medicare benefits will be paid. U.S. troops will remain at their posts around the world and will be paid under a bill Obama signed on Sept. 30. Air-traffic controllers and airport security screeners will keep working.

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