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Government Shutdown: Senate Vote Leaves Congress At Square 1

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WASHINGTON -- The House and Senate played ping-pong with funding for the federal government Monday night, hours before cash for much of Uncle Sam's operations was due to run out.

The GOP-led House passed its third measure that would keep government open after midnight, but only if Senate Democrats and the president agree to hamstring Obamacare.

The Senate promptly took up the bill and voted to table it, 54 to 46. The action also stripped out anti-Obamacare provisions that Democrats and President Barack Obama found objectionable.

Before doing so, House Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) declared the House was insane for repeatedly targeting Obamacare in a government funding bill, when there's no chance Democrats would help them gut Obama's signature health care law.

"Albert Einstein said when defining insanity as follows, quote, 'Doing the same thing over and over again and thinking you're going to get a different result,'" Reid said. "Einstein was a genius, but it doesn't take a genius to figure out that the proof is watching the House Republicans, because they've lost their minds."

House Speaker John Boehner's latest proposal to fund the government would have chipped away at Obamacare by delaying the individual mandate and barring the federal government from contributing to the health insurance of the president, lawmakers and staffers.

"My Republican colleagues and I thought we should defund the law. We thought we should delay for a year," Boehner (R-Ohio), said of his first two failed attempts. "Our friends in the Senate don't seem to want to go down that path."

Boehner insisted his third dead version was "an issue of fairness" because businesses have gotten a year reprieve, and numerous waivers to parts of the bill have been granted.

"How can we give waivers and breaks to all the big union guys out there? How do we give breaks to all the big businesses out there, and yet stick our constituents with a bill they don't want and a bill they can't afford?" Boehner said.

Obama has steadfastly maintained that he will not negotiate over funding the government or paying the nation's debt when the country reaches its borrowing limit next month.

Boehner mocked him for it. "I talked to the president earlier tonight. 'I'm not gonna negotiate, I'm not gonna negotiate, I'm not gonna do this,'" Boehner quoted Obama as saying in a derisive imitation.

The only way to keep the government open with just a few hours left would be for the House to rush through the Senate's bill. If no changes were made, the government would keep operating.

House leaders were meeting to decide what to do.

This article has been updated with the latest Senate and House votes.

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From the White House:

On Thursday, October 17, 2013, the President signed into law:

H.R. 2775, the "Continuing Appropriations Act, 2014," which provides fiscal year 2014 appropriations for projects and activities of the Federal Government through Wednesday, January 15, 2014. The effective time for the continuing resolution begins on October 1, 2013. H.R. 2775 also extends the Nation's debt limit through February 7, 2014.

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Hours before Newark Mayor Cory Booker (D) won a New Jersey special senatorial election to succeed the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D), U.S. senators paid tribute to Lautenberg in their own way.

Rushed to approve a 35-page deal to fund the government and avert a debt default, senators allowed a few unrelated provisions to slip through.

One was section 146, guaranteeing 4,000 -- the equivalent of one year's salary -- to Lautenberg's widow, Bonnie Englebart Lautenberg.

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-- Ashley Alman

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Director of the Office of Management and Budget Sylvia Mathews Burwell released the following statement Wednesday evening:

"Now that the bill has passed the United States Senate and the House of Representatives, the President plans to sign it tonight and employees should expect to return to work in the morning. Employees should be checking the news and OPM's website for further updates."

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A shouting stenographer was removed from the House floor as lawmakers voted on a deal to reopen the government and avoid a debt crisis.

The stenographer began shouting as the the House approved the number of votes needed to pass the bill. According to reporters, she was yelling about God and Freemasons:

-- Paige Lavender

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The House voted 285-144 to reopen the federal government and raise the debt limit.

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HuffPost's Arthur Delaney and Dave Jamieson report:

After voting this year to keep federal employees' pay frozen, Republicans in Congress have accidentally given many government workers their first raise in three years.


It's one of several unintended consequences of the Republican gambit to defund Obamacare by shutting down the government. It isn't a nominal raise, and it won't improve most workers' lives one bit. In fact, so far it's brought mostly misery and anxiety. But here's how it's a one-time raise.

Hundreds of thousands of federal workers have been off the job for two weeks due to the government shutdown. As part of the deal hatched Wednesday to reopen the government, Congress included a measure to pay those workers retroactively for the time they missed, as a matter of fairness, just as it has in the budget impasses of yesteryear. The rationale: federal workers shouldn't have to pay the price for Congress's failures.

But in a symbol of just how wasteful a government shutdown is, lawmakers -- many of whom complain that the federal workforce is bloated, and who haven't granted workers a single cost-of-living adjustment since 2010 -- have forced federal employees to perform two fewer weeks of work for the same salary, all due to congressional squabbling. That's a full pay period, amounting to 3.8 percent of annual wages.

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The House has voted to end the latest damaging battle of divided government in a polarized Congress.

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HuffPost's Jennifer Bendery reports:

There was a lot of back-patting among Democratic leaders Wednesday after the Senate passed its bill to end the government shutdown and avert a debt default. But some of their most effusive praise was for the leader of the other party, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who cut a deal with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) at the eleventh hour to avoid catastrophe.

"The Republican leader's cooperation was essential to reach an accord," Reid told reporters, noting his sometimes rocky relationship with the GOP leader. "I've worked with McConnell for many years. The last bit has not been ... [long pause] good."

McConnell "stepped up to be [Reid's] partner when it really counted," said Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (Ill.).

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Despite President Barack Obama's optimism during quick remarks after the Senate vote, reporters remain skeptical.

"Mr. President, isn't this going to happen all over again in a few months?" one called out as Obama started to leave the briefing room.

"No," he said.

Laughter ensued.

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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) struck a deal with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Wednesday, averting a potential debt default and reopening the government while leaving the Obamacare virtually untouched, once passed by Congress and signed by the president.

Though the deal comes with concessions from both parties, McConnell managed to score an earmark that will benefit his home state of Kentucky.

Section 123 of the Senate bill secures .918 billion in funding for the Olmsted Lock and Dam Authority for a dam project on the Ohio River being developed by URS Corp., a construction management company. That's a huge boost from the 5 million originally allotted. URS told The Wall Street Journal that the project -- one of the largest taken on by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers -- would halt without more funding.

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-- Ashley Alman

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President Barack Obama said during a press conference tonight that once an agreement arrives on his desk, he will sign the bill "immediately."

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Here are the 18 senators, all Republicans, who voted against the final deal to end the shutdown and avert a debt default.

Republican Sens. Tom Coburn (Okla.), John Cornyn (Texas), Mike Crapo (Idaho), Ted Cruz (Texas), Mike Enzi (Wyo.), Chuck Grassley (Iowa), Dean Heller (Nev.), Ron Johnson (Wis.), Mike Lee (Utah), Rand Paul (Ky.), Pat Roberts (Kansas), Jim Risch (Idaho), Marco Rubio (Fla.), Tim Scott (S.C.), Jeff Sessions (Ala.), Richard Shelby (Ala.), Pat Toomey (Pa.), David Vitter (La.).

-- Jennifer Bendery

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The final Senate vote was 81-18.

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The Senate voted 83 to 16 in the first of two votes Wednesday night to reopen the federal government and raise the nation's borrowing limit, hours before the Treasury Department faced the possibility of being unable to pay all of America's bills for the first time in modern history.

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HuffPost's Michael McAuliff and Sabrina Siddiqui report:

The government shutdown is dead. Obamacare is alive.

The Senate voted 83 to 16 in the first of two votes Wednesday night to reopen the federal government and raise the nation's borrowing limit, hours before the Treasury Department faced the possibility of being unable to pay all of America's bills for the first time in modern history.

The House was expected to follow, ending the latest damaging battle of divided government in a polarized Congress.

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