U.S. braces for possible gov't shutdown

US GOVERNMENT

U.S. President Barack Obama. EFE/File
U.S. President Barack Obama. EFE/File

— The United States is bracing for a partial shutdown of the federal government unless Congress acts to avert it, the White House said Monday.

The federal fiscal year ends at midnight Monday and all funding for nonessential services will end.

Congressional Republicans and Democrats appear far from reaching a budget deal to prevent the first federal shutdown since January 1996.

The Republicancontrolled House of Representatives approved a budget bill Sunday that would fund the government until Dec. 15, but the legislation would delay implementation of President Barack Obama's landmark Affordable Care Act, a provision the White House and Democrats consider unacceptable.

The Senate, which is under Democratic control, plans to meet Monday and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, DNev., said the House bill would not be approved by the upper house of Congress.

The Senate, however, is expected to approve a House bill that would keep paying the armed forces regardless of whether a partial shutdown of the federal government occurs.

Obama, for his part, has made it clear that he will not allow Republicans to use the health care reform law as a bargaining chip in budget negotiations.

Some 46 percent of Americans, according to a CNN poll released Monday, said they would blame Republicans for a government shutdown, while 36 percent said Obama was to blame and 13 percent blamed both parties for the budget stalemate.

Six of 10 respondents said a shutdown of the federal government would harm the country.