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Senate rejects House proposal to convene conference committee to resolve spending bill gridlock

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The U.S. Senate on Tuesday rejected a House plan to convene a special committee of lawmakers to find a compromise on a spending plan that would fund the federal government.

A partial government shutdown is underway after Congress failed to pass a funding measure for the 2014 fiscal year that began after midnight.

The Senate voted along party lines, 54 to 46, to table the House plan.

The Republican-led House early Tuesday morning passed a measure to go to conference on a spending bill with the Senate, where Democrats have the majority.

"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, but GOP leaders have not signaled what they plan to do next or whether the gridlock could be resolved today.

Republicans argue that the GOP has passed several bills to keep the government open but Democrats in the Senate have rejected them.

"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 form shutting down and every one represented 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 limit in some way 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 keep the military and some defense contractors and civilian defense workers paid during the shutdown. 

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