The looming United States government shutdown became a reality Tuesday morning, as lawmakers were unable to reach an agreement on the proposed spending bill for the fiscal year; that didn’t stop the inciting issue, the Affordable Care Act—called “Obamacare”—from launching its Web site at 8 a.m. Tuesday morning.
The shutdown, which puts more than 800,000 non-essential government workers temporarily out of a job, comes on the same day that Healthcare.gov went live. Ironically, the federal government is going inactive when the Web site connected to the source of the congressional controversy becomes active.
“Those marketplaces will be open for business on Tuesday, no matter what,” President Barack Obama said last week.
The site, run by the Department of Health and Human Services, serves as a one-stop shop for information about and enrollment in qualified health plans, a requirement for all individuals in 2014 under Obamacare. Healthcare.gov defines a qualified health plan as “an insurance plan that is certified by the Health Insurance Marketplace, provides essential health benefits, follows established limits on cost-sharing (like deductibles, copayments, and out-of-pocket maximum amounts), and meets other requirements.”
The Affordable Care Act was central to the government shutdown, which became official at 12:01 EST Tuesday morning. According to CBS News,The Republican-controlled House of Representatives passed multiple versions of a spending bill that included amendments which undermined or chipped away at the provisions of the Affordable Care Act. In turn, the Democrat-controlled Senate would strip the bill of it’s amendments, pass it, and send it back to the lower chamber. Predictably, the cycle would repeat itself until the deadline, with neither side budging.
“Agencies should now execute plans for an orderly shutdown due to the absence of appropriations,” read the memo that the Office of Management & Budget sent to federal employees.
The shutdown furloughs an estimated 800,000 federal employees and is estimated to cost in excess of $1 billion per day. National parks, monuments and museums, as well as most federal offices, will close, according to the Washington post, while air-traffic controllers, prison guards and Border Patrol agents will be required to serve without pay.
President Obama decried the shutdown in a video to troops and other Department of Defense personnel, saying “unfortunately, Congress has not fulfilled its responsibility. It has failed to pass a budget and, as a result, much of our government must now shut down until Congress funds it again.”
“You and your families deserve better than the dysfunction we’re seeing in Congress.”
President Obama Message on Shutdown (Medium Quality) from The White House on Vimeo.