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The stoppage of those payments drew the attention of Senate chaplain Barry Black, who in his prayer opening Wednesday’s Senate session said, "When our federal shutdown delays payments of death benefits to families of children dying in faraway battlefields, it’s time for our lawmakers to say, ‘Enough is enough.’ "
But an official of a conservative group that has pressed Republicans to try repealing Obama’s health care law was unyielding, saying that fight should continue.
"We should not fund the government until we address the president’s unfair, unaffordable and unworkable law," Michael Needham, chief executive officer of Heritage Action for America, said at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast.
Democratic senators took to the Capitol’s steps to call on Republicans to reopen the government. But they struggled to be heard over chants from a nearby rally of Washington, D.C., residents asking Senate leaders to clear House-passed legislation letting the city use its own tax dollars to provide services.
D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray spoke briefly to Reid, who with other Democrats is blocking approval of House-passed bills reopening specific programs and is instead insisting the entire government be reopened.
"I’m on your side. Don’t screw it up, OK? Don’t screw it up," Reid was heard to tell Gray.
Associated Press writers David Espo, Julie Pace, Andrew Taylor and Donna Cassata contributed to this report.
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