by Lori Montgomery, Paul Kane and Debbi Wilgoren
President Obama, declaring that his signature health-care law is “here to stay,” urged House Republicans on Tuesday to stop trying to derail it and instead “reopen the government” following a shutdown that took effect at midnight.
Appearing in the White House Rose Garden to tout the benefits of the Affordable Care Act, which began enrolling millions of Americans in new health-insurance plans starting Tuesday, Obama placed the blame squarely on what he called a right-wing faction of the Republican Party for pressing “ideological demands” targeting the health-care law in return for approving a short-term budget.
“This Republican shutdown did not have to happen,” Obama said, standing in front of a group of Americans who benefit from the opportunity to buy health insurance. He said it was “strange” that a political party “would make keeping people uninsured the centerpiece of their agenda.” He also underscored what he said was the “irony” that the shutdown will not affect the health-care law, widely known as Obamacare, because its funding sources are already in place.
As the first government shutdown in 17 years took hold Tuesday, thousands of government workers arrived at federal office buildings to clean off their desks, set out-of-office e-mail messages and make whatever arrangements were necessary to stay off the job indefinitely. Others, including Border Patrol officers, prison guards and air traffic controllers, were required to work but were told they may not be paid.