US government shutdown chokes Washington

US government shutdown chokes Washington

WASHINGTON - The first US government shutdown in 17 years has put a choke hold on Washington, with the White House and Republicans digging in for an extended struggle with no way out in sight.

National monuments were barricaded on Tuesday, US war cemeteries in Europe closed, and hundreds of thousands of federal workers were sent home without pay, after dawn revealed the wreckage of America's latest paralysing political crisis.

President Barack Obama accused conservatives in the House of Representatives of waging an "ideological crusade" by making government funding conditional on gutting his landmark health care law.

His top foe, Republican House Speaker John Boehner, meanwhile claimed Obama was pursuing a "scorched earth" policy by refusing to negotiate, as the rhetoric hit new heights and hopes for a swift end to the standoff faded.

The president was in feisty form at a White House event marking the rollout of a key portion of Obamacare, which turned into an extended taunt at Republicans for failing to halt implementation of the sweeping law.

"This Republican shutdown did not have to happen - I want every American to understand why it did happen," Obama said.

"They have shut down the government over an ideological crusade to deny affordable health care to millions of Americans."

It was the morning after on Capitol Hill, where late night brinkmanship sent America into its first government shutdown in 17 years when the money ran out at midnight.

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