Sense of surreal as Senate makes quick work of stopgap (Video)

A sense of the absurd spread on the Senate floor as lawmakers voted a second time within hours to reject a House-passed funding stopgap shortly before a midnight deadline to avoid a government shutdown.

Senators defeated the House proposal along party lines, 54-46. There were no defections. The measure would have delayed the individual mandate, a core piece of the Affordable Care Act, and prevented congressional lawmakers and staff from receiving federal subsidies when they enter healthcare exchanges.

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The situation appeared surreal to lawmakers as the clock ticked toward midnight, and there appeared no evidence of progress or even negotiations between the two sides.

“Three and a half hours essentially until the government begins to shut down. Can you believe this?” asked Sen. Barbara MikulskiBarbara MikulskiThe Trail 2016: Her big night Clinton to cast election as ‘moment of reckoning’ Sanders gives blessing as Dems nominate Clinton MORE (D-Md.), the chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee. “We are the United States of America. We are a superpower. We’re supposed to be a nation governed by rule of law, and we’re about to shut down.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidMcConnell: Senate won't take up TPP this year Politicians can’t afford to ignore Latinos Trump poised to betray primary supporters on immigration MORE (D-Nev.) invoked Albert Einstein's definition of insanity as performing the same action repeatedly and expecting a different result.

He panned the House-passed legislation for increasing the out-of-pocket healthcare costs of lawmakers and staffers.

“This time the House has attached a poison pill that would punish 16,000 congressional staff,” he said.

Senate Democrats left little doubt before the vote that they would strike the amendments attached to a stopgap bill funding government through Dec. 15.

Reid declared earlier in the day that Senate Democrats would not accept any changes to ObamaCare. He said they would not even negotiate oven the landmark law until after Congress raises the debt ceiling, which is due to expire Oct. 17.

“We are not going to mess around with ObamaCare, no matter what they do,” Reid said.

“They should get a life,” he said of House conservatives. “It is the law, declared constitutional. The exchanges are coming on board tomorrow.”

Democrats voted in unison against delaying the individual mandate after nine House Democrats defected from their leadership earlier in the evening to postpone the controversial penalty.

The new law’s open-enrollment period begins Oct. 1.

Senate Democratic Whip Dick DurbinDick DurbinTrump poised to betray primary supporters on immigration Dem wants hearing on EpiPen price hikes Legislators privacy fight coincides with FCC complaint MORE (D-Ill.) said Republicans are desperate to stop the law before Tuesday to prevent people from learning more about the law’s benefits.

“That’s why Republicans want to stop ObamaCare. They don’t want these exchanges to be announced. They don’t want people to see these options. They know what’s going to happen,” he said.

Senate Democratic leaders renewed their call on Speaker John BoehnerJohn BoehnerNew Trump campaign boss took shots at Ryan on radio show Election reveals Paul Ryan to be worst speaker in U.S. history Getting rid of ObamaCare means getting rid of Hillary MORE (R-Ohio) to put the Senate-passed stopgap up for a vote on the House floor.

“If they call it for a vote, it will pass. They know it.

Sen. Ted CruzTed CruzThe Trail 2016: On the fringe FULL SPEECH: Hillary Clinton links Trump to 'alt-right' in Reno Presidential hopefuls still bank on retail politics MORE (R-Texas) said Reid would deserve the blame if the government shuts down Tuesday.