Late Tuesday, House Republicans sought swift passage of legislation aimed at reopening small slices of the federal establishment. The bills covered the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Park Service and a portion of the Washington, D.C., government funded with local tax revenue.
Senate Democrats announced their opposition, saying Republicans shouldn't be permitted to choose which agencies should open and which remain shut.
Ironically, a major expansion of the health care law — the very event Republicans had hoped to prevent — was unaffected as consumers flocked for the first time Tuesday to websites to shop for coverage sold by private companies.
The talk of joining the current fight — the Republicans are trying to sidetrack the health care law by holding up funding for the fiscal year that began at midnight Monday — to a dispute involving the national debt limit suggested the shutdown could go on for some time.
The administration says the ceiling must be raised by mid-month, and Republicans have long vowed to seek cuts in spending at the same time, a condition Obama has rejected.
In Washington, some Republicans conceded privately they might bear the brunt of any public anger over the shutdown — and seemed resigned to an eventual surrender in their latest bruising struggle with Obama.
Democrats have "all the leverage and we've got none," said Sen. Saxby Chambliss of Georgia.
Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., said sardonically his party was following a "Ted Cruz-lemmings strategy" — a reference to the senator who is a prime proponent of action against the health care overhaul — and Rep. Scott Rigell of Virginia said it was time to pass legislation reopening the government without any health care impediments. "The shutdown is hurting my district — including the military and the hard-working men and women who have been furloughed due to the defense sequester," he said.