More Political Blame Game As Shutdown Continues
MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:
This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.
AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
And I'm Audie Cornish.
For the first time in 17 years, the U.S. government has shut down, at least in part. Some 800,000 federal workers are being furloughed. Over a million other essential civilian employees remain on the job, but it's unclear when they'll be paid. Speaking in the White House Rose Garden today, President Obama said he blames Republicans.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Let me be more specific: One faction of one party in one House of Congress, in one branch of government, shut down major parts of the government all because they didn't like one law. This Republican shutdown did not have to happen.
BLOCK: The president called it an ideological crusade to deny affordable health insurance to millions of Americans. Over in the Republican-controlled House, Majority Leader Eric Cantor sounded just as exasperated.
REPRESENTATIVE ERIC CANTOR: As you know, the House has proceeded in five different fashions to try and resolve this situation and not to end up here. But at each and every turn, the Senate Democrats refused to even discuss these proposals and instead tabled every one of them.
CORNISH: In a moment, we'll hear from federal workers here in the nation's capital. But first, a quick spin around the country. National parks, from Acadia to Zion, and U.S. monuments were closed today.
BLOCK: At Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia, tourists had to peer through a window to catch a glimpse of the Liberty Bell. Andrea Ashby was one of a dozen federal employees gathered outside Independence Hall to protest the shutdown.
ANDREA ASHBY: Our congressional leaders can't agree. They don't know how to negotiate with one another. They have put themselves and their politics in front of the American people, and that's a shame.
CORNISH: In Los Angeles, social worker Magda Sellon says she's sad and angry and hopes the shutdown doesn't last more than a day.
MAGDA SELLON: As it is, if you lose one hour of work, that's one hour of money that you can pay a bill, that you can, you know, that person can feed a family.
BLOCK: In Houston, Johnson Space Center employee Paul Ron was a bit more upbeat about the situation.
PAUL RON: Here at JSC, we love what we do. I mean, we're in it for a life. It's aerospace. It's the coolest thing in the world. And so when we're not at work, it's a little depressing. But it should end, right? It should all end soon.
CORNISH: And up north in Kittery, Maine, at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Paul O'Connor had a few choice words for members of Congress. O'Connor is president of the local chapter of the Metal Trades Council.
PAUL O'CONNOR: What the hell is our government doing to us? My God, it's national security. Why don't we just put a big placard across the nation saying, bad guys, October 1st, this is the day. Come on in. What the hell are we doing?
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