As the Government Shuts Down, Obamacare Exchanges Open For Business

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Oct. 1 2013 12:19 AM

As the Government Shuts Down, Obamacare Exchanges Open For Business

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Members of the House of Representatives enter the U.S. Capitol before passing a continuing resolution to fund the U.S. government that would also delay enrollment in the Affordable Care Act for one year September 30, 2013 in Washington, DC.

Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images

And it's official: The shutdown is upon us. As Monday became Tuesday, and as September turned into October, the first shutdown of the federal government in more than 17 years became a reality. Here's the Associated Press with where things stood after another day's worth of hot potato between the GOP-controlled House and the Democratic-led Senate:

As the clock struck midnight Monday, House Republicans were demanding that the Senate negotiate their demand for a one-year delay in making millions of people buy health insurance under President Barack Obama's 2010 health care law. Minutes before midnight, the White House ordered a shutdown.
The Democratic Senate on Monday twice rejected GOP demands to delay key portions of what has become known as Obamacare as a condition for keeping the government open.
An estimated 800,000 federal workers faced furloughs though many were told work a half day Tuesday. Critical functions like air traffic control and military operations will continue. Social Security benefits will be paid. National parks and most federal offices will close.
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The shutdown is the first since 1995-96, when the Newt Gingrich-led House tangled with Bill Clinton. That shutdown lasted a total of 21 days, the longest of the previous 16 shutdowns to occur since 1977. The stroke of midnight also marked the opening of the Obamacare exchanges that House Republicans hoped to derail. "The Health Insurance Marketplace is Open!" proclaimed healthcare.gov during Tuesday's opening moments.

The major question now facing Washington moves from whether Congress will force a government shutdown to just how long such a shutdown will last. The polls suggest that the American public will largely blame the GOP for the shutdown—although that was well established before midnight, so it's unclear just how much weight national public opinion will carry in the dark-red districts of those House members that pushed the stop-Obamacare-or-bust strategy the hardest. 

Here's a quick Slate reading list concerning the current state of play:

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Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City.