Senate Dems reject formal talks with House to end shutdown

Senate Democrats on Tuesday rejected negotiating with the House on government funding, leaving no clear path for ending the federal shutdown that began overnight.

The Senate voted 54-46 to table a House request for a conference committee on a continuing resolution (CR), marking the third time that Democrats have voted down legislation from the lower chamber since Monday.

"The government is closed," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said. "All over America, federal employees are getting furloughs this morning … because of the irrationality that is going on in the other side of the Capitol."

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Democrats had been rooting for a shutdown all along.

"Democratic leaders in Congress finally have their prize — a government shutdown that no one seems to want but them," McConnell said. "With just hours left to go, Democrats voted again and again to reject reasonable legislation. … They don’t even want to talk about it."

House GOP leaders have tried several tactics to defund or change the implementation of ObamaCare in the government funding bill. The Senate has rejected them each time, resulting in a shutdown for all but the "essential" functions of government.

The House made its last move early Tuesday morning, passing a resolution asking for a formal conference between the House and Senate on the continuing resolution.

Senate Democrats promised they would kill the motion because they did not want to negotiate with a “gun to our head.” Reid and other Democrats said if the House would first pass a “clean” funding bill, then they would be willing to enter negotiations on a longer-term measure.

Moments after the shutdown deadline passed Tuesday morning, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said the House could send “100 other doodads and gismos,” but the Senate would reject every one until the House passed a clean CR.

It's unclear where the fight will go from here, with both sides digging in for the first government shutdown since 1997 and the deadline for a debt ceiling increase looming in mid-October.

Democrats said Monday that they've already compromised with Republicans by agreeing to the sequester funding levels the lower chamber set for the stopgap, which many liberals opposed.

But Republicans have insisted on changes to ObamaCare, and Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has essentially ruled out a clean funding bill. 

“The House has made its position known very clearly,” Boehner said late Tuesday morning. “We believe that we should fund the government, and we think there ought to be basic fairness for all Americans under ObamaCare."

— This story was updated at 10:18 a.m.

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