President Barack Obama castigated House tea party members on Tuesday for shutting down the government over an "ideological crusade" on health-care reform.
Speaking from the White House Rose Garden on the first day of the partial government shutdown, Obama said the longer the shutdown continues, the worse the impact will be.
The shutdown, the first in 17 years, kept some 800,000 federal workers home. Barricades sprang up early Tuesday at the Lincoln Memorial and other monuments, and the National Park Service was turning off 45 fountains around the capital city. National parks from Acadia in Maine to Denali in Alaska followed suit, as did many federal workplaces.
The president said Republicans should not be able to hold the entire economy "hostage." He urged them to reopen the government quickly and allow furloughed federal employees to go back to work.
"This Republican shut down did not have to happen ... but I want every American to understand why it did happen," he said. "Republicans in the House of Representatives refused to fund the government unless we defunded and dismantled the Affordable Care Act. They've shut down the government over an ideological crusade to deny affordable health insurance to millions of Americans. In other words, they demanded ransom just for doing their job."
(Read more: 800,000 out of work as government shuts down)
The government shut down because Congress did not pass a funding bill ahead of Monday's midnight deadline for the end of the 2013 fiscal year. The tea party insisted on a delay in funding for Obama's Affordable Care Act, which opened as scheduled Tuesday despite the government shutdown.