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US Braces for Government Shutdown

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The United States braced Monday for a partial government shutdown as the clock ticked down toward a midnight deadline for Congress to agree on a spending bill.

WASHINGTON, September 30 (RIA Novosti) – The United States braced Monday for a partial government shutdown as the clock ticked down toward a midnight deadline for Congress to agree on a spending bill.

The Democrat-controlled Senate on Monday voted 54-46 to strip a spending bill that was passed by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives of language that would have delayed by a year the rollout of President Barack Obama’s signature piece of legislation, the federal health care law, and repealed its tax on medical device manufacturers, in exchange for keeping the government funded and open for business through December.

Speaking from The White House Monday afternoon, Obama called the impending shutdown “the height of irresponsibility,” and he said it would “throw a wrench into the gears” of a recovering economy.

Some have blamed a faction of conservative Republicans for the impasse, claiming they saw the looming deadline for passing a spending bill as a chance to torpedo what’s commonly referred to as “Obamacare,” before one of the healthcare law’s key elements, insurance marketplaces, is launched Tuesday.

Obama blasted the Republicans, saying: “One faction of one party in one house of congress in one branch of government” was trying to “extract a ransom” from the American people “just because there’s a law you don’t like.”

A government shutdown, the first in 17 years, would not hit all services equally: air-traffic controllers and airport screeners will remain on the job.

Mail will still be delivered, and passport and visa applications will still be processed, because those services are partially funded by fees paid by consumers.

Much of NASA will be shut down, but mission control will remain open to support the crew on the International Space Station.

Social Security and Medicare benefits will continue to be processed, but the Internal Revenue Service will not conduct any tax audits and American national parks and monuments including the Statue of Liberty, will be closed to the public, as would Washington’s iconic Smithsonian museums.

Some 800,000 federal government workers will be forced to take unpaid leave, resulting in a loss of around $1 billion a week in lost pay to the “still-struggling US economy,” CNN reported.

US military personnel around the world would continue to serve and get paid, although their paychecks could be delayed.

“A large number of civilian employees and contractors would likely be temporarily furloughed,” Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said.

 

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