The US government has started to shut down for the first time in 17 years after President Barack Obama refused to bow to Republican demands that he roll back his signature healthcare law.
Around 700,000 federal workers will be placed on indefinite unpaid leave after a game of intense political brinkmanship failed to yield any deal between Democrats and Republicans in Congress.
In a series of late-night votes Republicans insisted they would only vote to fund the federal government in return for a one-year delay to the health reform law known as Obamacare, key parts of which go into force today.
Mr Obama held firm to his own position, accusing Republican leaders of shutting down the government to "save face after making some impossible promises to the extreme right wing of their party".
"You don’t get to extract a ransom for doing your job; for doing what you’re supposed to be doing anyway; or just because there’s a law there that you don’t like," Mr Obama said.
The result was a political stalemate and at 11.59pm the deadline passed to avert the first shutdown of the federal government since Bill Clinton faced down Congressional Republicans in early 1996.