October 1, 2013 - 13:39 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - The U.S. government has begun a partial shutdown after the two houses of Congress failed to agree a budget, BBC News reported.
The Republican-led House of Representatives insisted on delaying Obama's healthcare reform - dubbed Obamacare - as a condition for passing a bill.
More than 800,000 federal employees face unpaid leave with no guarantee of back pay once the deadlock is over. It is the first partial shutdown in 17 years.
The economic impact will depend on how long the deadlock lasts, but Goldman Sachs estimates a three-week shutdown could shave as much as 0.9% from U.S. GDP this quarter.
With less than one hour to go before midnight, the Republican-led House called for a conference - a bipartisan committee with the Senate - to try to thrash out a deal, but Democrats said it was too late to avoid a shutdown.
The White House's budget office began notifying federal agencies to begin an "orderly shutdown" as midnight approached.
According to Belfast Telegraph, as Congress gridlocked, Obama said a "shutdown will have a very real economic impact on real people, right away", with hundreds of thousands of federal workers on temporary unpaid leave and veterans' centres, national parks, most of the space agency and other government operations closed.
He laid the blame at the feet of House Republicans, whom he accused of seeking to tie government funding to ideological demands, "all to save face after making some impossible promises to the extreme right wing of their party".
House Speaker John Boehner responded on the House floor: "The American people don't want a shutdown and neither do I." However, he added, the new healthcare law "is having a devastating impact... Something has to be done."
There are few issues Republicans feel as passionately about as the healthcare reform, which they have dubbed "Obamacare". They see the plan, intended to provide coverage for the millions of Americans currently uninsured, as wasteful and restricting freedom by requiring most to have health insurance.