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Daily Breeze - South Bay House Democrats Blast GOP Extremists for Government Shutdown

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By Andrew Edwards and Donna Littlejohn

South Bay lawmakers put up a united front Tuesday in lambasting Republicans for the federal government shutdown that closed national museums and other sites, with no resolution on the horizon.

Local congressional representatives -- all Democrats -- loudly echoed the outrage of President Barack Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid amid a bitter standoff in the nation's capital.

"The irresponsibility of the Republican Party cannot be overstated," Rep. Maxine Waters said in a statement Tuesday morning. "As we slowly emerge from the worst economic crisis in over 70 years, I am saddened that ideological extremism has led to another self-inflicted wound that could have dire consequences for our fragile recovery."

Some citizens reacted with "a pox on both their houses." Others worried about the National Zoo's popular panda cam.

But political partisans on both sides wasted no time in unleashing a vicious round of finger-pointing and sound bites that were hurled back and forth throughout the day.

Republicans, for their part, charged that Democrats were responsible for the shutdown by not being willing to compromise with a last-minute GOP-sponsored concession that called for a one-year delay in implementing Obamacare -- as opposed to the party's earlier call to defund the Affordable Care Act.

"I don't think any of us thought the president would eliminate or defund Obamacare," Rep. Buck McKeon, R-Santa Clarita, said Tuesday in a conference call with reporters. "But we had to make that attempt."

The Obama administration already has given most employers a one-year delay on new legal requirements that they offer health insurance to their employees next year. McKeon said it's only fair that average Americans get the same deal.

"We thought a delay was a very reasonable request," he said.

"I guarantee you, there will be millions of people that will be hit with penalties that they are not aware of until the IRS shows up at their door and takes their money," McKeon said.

On Tuesday, Reid shot down as "a wacky idea" a new House Republican plan to approve pieces of the continuing resolution to fund government agencies.

McKeon accused Reid of arrogantly refusing to negotiate on the budget with House members.

From the opposite side of the aisle, Rep. Janice Hahn, D-San Pedro, said House Speaker John Boehner was afraid of a right-wing faction within the Republican Party that she blamed for the shutdown.

"The Republicans have decided that their obsession with the Affordable Care Act is more important than the rest of the government -- more important than paying FBI agents, more important than keeping the Wall Street watchdogs on the job, more important than keeping the lights on at the Environmental Protection Agency, more important than researching a cure for cancer, and more important than indefinitely furloughing, without pay, 800,000 of our fellow Americans," Hahn said in a statement.

As of 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, the federal government partially shut down due to Congress' failure to pass legislation that would fund the full array of operations. Roughly 800,000 federal workers got an unwanted day off with no pay while national parks and famed Washington, D.C., monuments were closed to tourists. Most of NASA's workforce was off duty, although Mission Control personnel continued to work, as did astronauts Karen Nyberg and Michael Hopkins aboard the International Space Station.

The immediate source of the dispute, leading to the first such government shutdown in 17 years, is Senate and House Republicans' attempt to leverage budget discussions to delay the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, which requires households and individuals to obtain health insurance for 2014 or pay a tax penalty.

"Extremist Republicans in the House of Representatives have forced a government shutdown because they refuse to accept that the Affordable Care Act is the law of the land," said Rep. Henry Waxman, who represents the coastal South Bay. "The House passed it, the Senate passed it, the president signed it and the Supreme Court upheld it. These extremists just can't get over it. ... Republicans are having a temper tantrum and they're willing to hurt lots of innocent bystanders and threaten the economy if they don't get their way."

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