Obama says federal workers are being treated like ‘punching bags’ in government shutdown
Congress plunged the nation into a partial government shutdown Tuesday, forcing some 800,000 federal workers off the job as a protracted dispute over President Barack Obama’s signature health care law reached the boiling point.
Obama readied a midday statement to the nation while Democrats and Republicans at the Capitol blamed each other for the first shutdown in nearly two decades.
“Closed” signs and barricades sprang up early Tuesday at the Lincoln Memorial and other monuments, and the National Park Service was turning off 45 fountains around the capital city. National parks from Acadia in Maine to Denali in Alaska followed suit, as did many federal workplaces.
Agencies like NASA and the Environmental Protection Agency were virtually shuttered.
But people classified as essential government employees – such as air traffic controllers, Border Patrol agents and most food inspectors – continued to work. So did members of the military and employees whose jobs are financed through fees, such as State Department workers who issue passports and visas. (Photo: AFP Photo/Karen Bleir/AFP/Getty Images)