The US government stumbled into a shutdown at midnight as a rogue Senate Republican blocked a speedy vote on a massive, bipartisan, budget-busting spending deal, protesting the return of trillion-dollar deficits on the watch of Republicans controlling Washington. The shutdown—technically a lapse in agency appropriations—was the second government closure in less than a month, another product of election-year partisan disputes and persistent internal divisions in both parties, the AP reports. It crept up slowly Thursday night after GOP Sen. Rand Paul repeatedly held up votes on the budget plan, futilely seeking a vote on reversing spending increases.
"I ran for office because I was very critical of President Obama's trillion-dollar deficits," the Kentucky senator said. "Now we have Republicans hand in hand with Democrats offering us trillion-dollar deficits. I can't in all honesty look the other way." As the clock hit midnight, Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney immediately implemented plans to close non-essential government operations. The move essentially started a race to the next deadline—the scramble to reopen the government before federal employees were due to report for work. The Senate plans to hold votes in the middle of the night and send the budget deal and temporary spending measure to the House by dawn. If the measure passes, the government will open in the morning on schedule.
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