US President Barack Obama has blamed Republicans in the House of Representatives for a partial government shutdown, saying they are carrying out an "ideological crusade" against his healthcare law.
Obama was speaking at the White House on Tuesday, the first day of the partial government shutdown of non-essential services, triggered by the failure of Congress to pass a budget law.
The president said Republicans, who have refused to pass the funding bill unless reforms are made to his landmark healthcare law, should not be able to hold the entire economy "hostage".
He urged them to reopen the government quickly and allow furloughed federal employees to go back to work.
Much of the U.S. government is closed for business after Congress failed to agree on a temporary spending bill to keep it operating.
The Republican majority House of Representatives repeatedly linked money for government operations for the new fiscal year to defunding, delaying or dismantling the health insurance law known as "Obamacare." Each attempt was turned back by the Democratic-controlled Senate, which must also agree to budget legislation.
The Senate also rejected a House request for negotiations on the matter.
About 800,000 federal workers are on furlough, while other federal workers are staying on the job with no guarantee when they will be paid.
The shutdown will not affect Voice of America broadcasts, but will close national parks, traffic safety agencies, and lay off most Defense Department civilian employees. The U.S. military will remain on duty, and ongoing military operations like those in Afghanistan will continue.
Homeland Security agents and border security offices will remain open, as well as other law enforcement agencies. Enrollment for "Obamacare" also began as scheduled Tuesday.
House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner said he was disappointed the Senate rejected a House bill to fund the government through December 15. He said the bill would "provide fairness to the American people under Obamacare – no exemptions, no exceptions, let\’s treat everyone the same." It also included Boehner\’s call "to sit down, discuss and try to resolve those matters.\’\’