"Government is closed, because of the irrationality of what is going on on the other side of the Capitol," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said on the floor of the Senate Tuesday morning. "They'd rather see the government shut down than do anything to protect the American people from the consequences of Obamacare," countered Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
With the parts of the federal government officially closed for business today - and no path out of the political gridlock in sight - lawmakers are trying to assign blame for the first government shutdown in 17 years.
The House and Senate spent the better part of Monday and the early hours of Tuesday morning passing back and forth a short-term spending bill with no agreement. Even after midnight, when funding to keep the government open had run out, the House still voted to send the bill back to the Senate. That legislation, in addition to funding the government, also included an amendment to delay the individual mandate in Obamacare for one year and eliminate subsidies for Congressional staffers buying healthcare in the new exchanges. It also appointed eight Republican members to participate in a budget conference with the Senate, something Democrats in the upper chamber had been requesting for months to no avail.
But Reid had already sent the Senate home for the night after vowing that he and his colleagues "will not go to conference with a gun to our head." When he opened the chamber at 9:30 Tuesday