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Government Closes as Standoff Continues

House Speaker John Boehner said Monday that he didn’t want a government shutdown, but added the health care law “is having a devastating impact. … Something has to be done.” Photo by Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images

If you had better things to do than watch C-Span Monday night, let’s catch you up to speed.

The government is ____.

The budget is ____.

A compromise is ____.

Whoops! Those are the placeholders we wrote last night as we toggled between the now-shuttered PandaCam and the bitter debate on the House floor.

But seriously, folks, it was a night of drama, that resulted in exactly what (most) lawmakers said they were trying to prevent. Thirty-seven years ago it happened for the first time. And it’s been 17 years since the last time. Monday, the 113th Congress made history again, as funding for the government expired and no new funding was in place.

The Morning Line“It is now midnight, and the great government of the United States is now closed,” House Rules Committee Chairwoman Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y., announced on the floor.

A few minutes later, with no agreement in sight, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced his chamber was going home for the night. They are scheduled to return at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday.

The House ultimately passed a measure calling upon the Senate to appoint negotiators.

Reid made clear his chamber would vote that proposal down, just as it dispatched the earlier three versions that came from the Republican-controlled House.

“I would hope they would understand it is within their power, at any time, all they have to do is accept what we already passed,” Reid said.

House Speaker John Boehner held a Tuesday morning press conference that lasted about one minute. He had little to add beyond describing the Republicans’ plans outlined Monday night.

“I would hope that the Senate would accept our offer to go to conference and discuss this so we can resolve this for the American people,” he said.

He didn’t say, when asked, if he would accept a vote on a continuing resolution that funds the government and does nothing else.

The Democratic argument against the latest House plan included complaints that despite requests, the sides haven’t been able to get conferees together on the budget in six months. They said it was a disingenuous effort that just ricocheted the government closer to a shutdown.

When it became apparent the House would not send a policy-free continuing resolution to the Senate, the Office of Management and Budget didn’t wait for midnight to strike. The agency issued guidance for federal agencies about implementing shutdown plans.

OMB Director Sylvia Burwell asked agencies to “execute plans for an orderly shutdown due to the absence of appropriations.”

There actually was one area of agreement Monday.

Both chambers approved, and the president signed legislation that ensured the government would pay members of the military even if a shutdown happened. President Barack Obama pre-recorded a video message to troops explaining the troop pay measure he had signed, and complaining that Congress “has not fulfilled its responsibility.”

“You and your families deserve better than the dysfunction we’re seeing in Congress,” the president said. “Your talents and dedication help keep our military the best in the world. That’s why I’ll keep working to get Congress to reopen our government and get you back to work as soon as possible.”

The president also ticked off some of the consequences in an early evening statement.

He reminded people that Social Security payments will still go out, and border patrol agents will remain at their posts. But NASA, Mr. Obama said, “will shut down almost entirely.” The parks and monuments across the country will be shuttered, and the businesses that serve those popular spots will be “out of customers and out of luck.”

And if you are stuck working in the Capitol Tuesday, good luck getting a sandwich, and don’t even try to get your shoes shined.

So, how did we end up at this place?

All day it wasn’t clear how exactly it would go down.

Early reports of Republican moderates revolting against Boehner’s plan turned out to be unfounded.

Mr. Obama made clear in an interview with NPR he won’t bend on his signature domestic law, which incidentally sees a major provision kick in Tuesday.

Asked what he was offering the GOP, the president insisted:

I shouldn’t have to offer anything. They’re not doing me a favor by paying for things that they have already approved for the government to do. That’s part of their basic function of government, that’s not doing me a favor.

Watch the NewsHour segment that rounds up the day’s events here or below:

Our co-anchors then interviewed voices from either side of the debate. White House senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer’s interview with Judy Woodruff is here or below:

And Gwen Ifill spoke with Rep. Marsha Blackburn, a Republican from Tennessee:

So, what now?

It’s anyone’s guess. With the government already over the brink, there’s less of a feeling of urgency. But it’s politically dangerous for anyone who will face voters next fall to appear as if they aren’t working toward a solution.

If you’re not a member of Congress, the only thing left to do is wait. The Washingtonian rounded up happy hours and other events for furloughed government workers, including political ping-pong and a West Wing marathon at Sixth & I Synagogue.

Or feel free to review how this sort of scenario works. The Atlantic describes how the Antideficiency Act governs how a shutdown takes place.

And in case you were keeping track, just 10 percent of Americans polled by CNN before the shutdown said they approve of the job Congress is doing, an all-time low for the CNN survey.


  • Roll Call’s Meredith Shiner scoops that Democrats are considering leaking private email conversations with Boehner aides on the issue of subsidies for Hill staffers enrolling in health care exchanges.

  • Members of Congress have not canceled any fundraisers scheduled for this week. And the Federal Elections Committee won’t be watching.

  • Here are the Associated Press’ Top 10 headlines for today.

  • A judge has ruled Attorney General Eric Holder can’t keep documents relating to the Fast and Furious gunrunning operation private from Congress. Last year, the House held Holder in contempt of Congress because of the documents.

  • The Sixth & I Synagogue in Washington D.C. is offering all kinds of politically themed games for government workers who might be affected by a shutdown.

  • Rep. Spencer Bachus of Alabama, who for six years served as the top Republican on the House Financial Services Committee, won’t seek re-election in 2014.

  • Not The Onion: Mr. Obama nominated former Mitt Romney policy advisor Lanhee Chen to serve on the Social Security Advisory Board, which advises him and Congress on Social Security policy.

  • Reuters has the latest on casino giant Sheldon Adelson’s libel lawsuit. Adelson, a prominent GOP donor, lost the suit after claiming a Democratic group “spread a false accusation that he had condoned prostitution in his casinos in Macau.”

  • CNN Films scrapped plans for a Hillary Clinton documentary, mostly because people close to the former Secretary of State aren’t talking. An NBC film also was called off.

  • Watch Boehner talk about putting a lump of coal in then-President Bill Clinton’s Christmas present during the 1995 shutdown standoff.

  • WNYC has a handy flow chart about the Affordable Care Act. And don’t miss the NewsHour’s helpful FAQ series about the health care law.

  • GQ has a really intense story about the crazy cast of characters involved in the ricin-laced mail plot earlier this year.

  • Who would have thought? This chart suggests WNBA fans are more likely to vote Democratic than people who like professional bull riding.

NEWSHOUR: #notjustaTVshow


Katelyn Polantz, Simone Pathe and Joshua Barajas contributed to this report.

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