AP and Reuters
WASHINGTON — The political impasse in Congress has shown no signs of easing, leaving federal government functions — from informational websites, to national parks, to processing veterans’ claims — in limbo from coast to coast, with lawmakers in both parties ominously suggesting the partial shutdown might last for weeks.
A funding cutoff for much of the government began on Tuesday as a Republican effort to kill or delay the nation’s health care law stalled action on a short-term, traditionally routine spending bill. Republicans pivoted to a strategy to try to reopen the government piecemeal but were unable to immediately advance the idea in the House of Representatives.
National parks like Yellowstone and Alcatraz Island were shuttered, government websites went dark and hundreds of thousands of nonessential workers reported for a half-day to fill out time cards, hand in their government cellphones and laptops, and change voicemail messages to gird for a deepening shutdown.
Late Tuesday, House Republicans sought passage of legislation aimed at reopening small slices of the government. The bills covered the national parks, the Veterans Affairs Department and city services in Washington, D.C., such as garbage collection funded with local tax revenues.
The move presented Democrats with politically challenging votes but they rejected the idea, saying it was unfair to pick winners and losers as federal employees worked without a guarantee of getting paid and the effects of the partial shutdown rippled through the country and the economy.
U.S. President Barack Obama would veto any “piecemeal” legislation, the White House said on Tuesday. “These piecemeal efforts are not serious, and they are no way to run a government,” spokeswoman Amy Brundage said in a statement, noting that the White House wants the Republican-controlled House of Representatives to pass a bill that would continue funding the federal government without any unrelated policy measures attached. “The president and the Senate have been clear that they won’t accept this kind of game-playing, and if these bills were to come to the president’s desk, he would veto them,” she said.