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Congress plunges US government into shutdown

CAROL MARTINDALE, [email protected]

Congress plunges US government into shutdown

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Congress plunged the nation into a partial government shutdown today Tuesday as a long-running dispute over President Barack Obama’s health care law stalled a temporary funding bill, forcing about 800 000 federal workers off the job and suspending most non-essential federal programs and services.
With the Republican-controlled House and Democratic-controlled Senate at a stalemate, it was unclear how long the government would remain shuttered. The No. 2 Democrat in the Senate, Dick Durbin of Illinois, called the failure to pass a budget “conduct unbefitting a responsible Congress” and said he hoped it could be resolved by the end of the day Tuesday.
“Most people in the body politic are taking a look at this and saying, ‘A pox on both of your houses. It should never have reached this point,'” Durbin said today on CNN. “And there’s wisdom to that.”
The shutdown, the first since the winter of 1995-96, closed national parks, museums along the Washington Mall and the US. Capitol visitors center. The Smithsonian website displayed a red banner noting that “all Smithsonian museums and the National Zoo are closed.”
Agencies like NASA and the Environmental Protection Agency will be all but shuttered. People classified as essential government employees — such as air traffic controllers, Border Patrol agents and most food inspectors — will continue to work.
The health care law itself was unaffected as enrollment opened Tuesday for millions of people shopping for medical insurance.
A release from the US Embassy in Barbados stated that the lapse in funding will not affect consular services provided by the United States embassy in Barbados. However, it noted that some embassy activities would be limited. 
“One of the Department’s highest priorities is to assist U.S. citizens abroad.  Our embassies and consulates overseas will continue to provide American citizen services.  The embassy will maintain normal business hours and maintain regular consular services (American citizen services, tourist visas, etc.)”.