“One faction of one party in one house of Congress in one branch of government doesn’t get to shut down the entire government,” President Obama told reporters Monday afternoon. “You don’t get to extract a ransom for doing your job.” The president was wrong about that; Congress failed to break its budget standoff tonight, shutting down the federal government for the first time in seventeen years. Around 8:40 p.m., the House voted voted 228 to 201 to pass a third bill linking the Affordable Care Act to a proposal to fund the government, this time by delaying the individual mandate for a year. Within an hour, the Senate stripped the health care provisions from the bill and sent it back to the House. “They’ve lost their minds,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. “They keep trying to do the same thing over and over again.”
The two chambers then took a break from the legislative volleying, with the House Rules Committee meeting at 10:30 p.m. to discuss a plan to enter into talks with the Senate in the coming days. After 1 a.m., the House passed the bill to delay Obamacare again, with an added provision to set up a negotiating committee. Reid had already dismissed the proposal hours earlier, saying he wouldn’t negotiate until the House passed a “clean” bill to fund the government for the next six weeks without attempting to simultaneously gut Obamacare. “We’re not going to go to conference with a gun to a head,” Reid said. “Republicans are still playing games.”
The official order to close up shop came a few minutes before midnight, with the Office of Management and Budget issuing a memo directing agencies to “execute plans for an orderly shutdown due to the absence of appropriations.” More than 800,000 federal workers will now be furloughed, and millions will continue working without pay. Politico reports that all federal employees are still expected to show up to work Tuesday morning. They’ll receive official notice on whether or not they’re essential to daily operations, and will then have half a day to tie up last-minute business, clean up their desks, and resist the urge to leave snarky “out-of-office” e-mail replies about Boehner.
In the hours before the shutdown, President Obama assured Americans that Social Security checks will still be issued, Medicare patients can still see their doctors, and mail will be delivered. He also signed a law that ensures U.S. military personnel will continue to be paid, and broadcast the video address below on Armed Forces Television as the shutdown took effect. Obama acknowledged that for the civilians employed by the Department of Defense “the days ahead could mean more uncertainty,” including more furloughs on top of those already taking place due to sequestration. “You and your families deserve better than the dysfunction we’re seeing in Congress,” he said.
This post has been updated throughout.