The Senate on Tuesday rejected a House proposal to convene a special committee of lawmakers to work out a compromise on a spending plan needed to reopen the federal government.
The Senate voted along party lines, 54 to 46, to table the House plan, effectively killing it.
The Republican-led House early Tuesday morning passed a proposal to create a conference committee on which Senate Democrats and House Republicans could resolve differences over the spending measure. But the measure also included a provision delaying part of Obamacare and Democrats insist they won't consider any spending bill that isn't limited to funding the government.
"All over America, federal employees were given four hours this morning to clear of their emails, computers and close their offices," Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said. "The government is closed because of the irrationality of what is going on, on the other side of the Capitol."
The Senate's rejection means the next move will likely come from the House, though it wasn't clear what GOP leaders planned to do next or whether the logjam could even be resolved Tuesday.
Republicans argue that they passed at least three earlier proposal that would have kept the government open only to have them all rejected by the Senate, putting the blame for a shutdown on Democrats.
"Democratic leaders finally have their prize, a government shutdown that no one seems to want, but them," Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said. "Every piece of legislation the House sent over would have kept the government from shutting down and every one represented a bigger compromise than the last. They've not said they won't even agree to sit down and work out differences. They have literally voted against sitting down and working out a compromise."
The two sides cannot agree on a funding bill, with Republicans insisting that the measure include provisions that would stall or derail the new health care law while funding the government until Dec. 15. Democrats want a "clean" bill with no Obamacare provisions and temporary funding that keeps the government running until Nov. 15.
Not every branch of government will be closed. Congress on Tuesday approved, and President Obama signed into law, a measure to pay military and some defense contractors and civilian defense workers during the shutdown.