WASHINGTON — The U.S. government shut down at midnight Eastern time after Congress failed to resolve a partisan standoff over immigration and spending.
In a late-night vote, Senate Democrats joined to block a bill that would have kept the government running for another four weeks. A flurry of last-minute negotiations failed to beat the deadline.
The shutdown is only the fourth government closure in a quarter-century.
Even before the vote, President Donald Trump was pessimistic, tweeting, "Not looking good" and blaming the Democrats who he said actually wanted the shutdown "to help diminish the success" of the tax bill he and fellow Republicans pushed through last month.
Democrats balked on the measure in an effort to pressure on the White House to cut a deal to protect "dreamer" immigrants — who were brought to the country as children and are now here illegally — before their legal protection runs out in March.
The president watched the results from the White House residence, dialing up allies and affirming his belief that Democrats would take the blame for the shutdown, said a person familiar with his conversations but not authorized to discuss them publicly.
Predictably, both parties moved swiftly to blame one another. Democrats laid fault with Republicans, who control both chambers of Congress and the White House and have struggled with building internal consensus. Republicans declared Democrats responsible, after they declined to provide the votes needed to overcome a filibuster in the Senate over their desire to force the passage of legislation to protect some 700,000 younger immigrants from deportation.
The White House said it will not negotiate with the Democrats on immigration until the end of the federal government shutdown.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement that, "We will not negotiate the status of unlawful immigrants while Democrats hold our lawful citizens hostage over their reckless demands."
She added: "When Democrats start paying our armed forces and first responders we will reopen negotiations on immigration reform."
Republicans branded the confrontation a "Schumer shutdown" and argued that Democrats were harming fellow Americans to protect "illegal immigrants."
Many of the immediate effects of the government shutdown will be muted for most Americans, as it comes on a Friday night.
Social Security and most other safety net programs are unaffected by the lapse in federal spending authority. Critical government functions will continue, with uniformed service members, health inspectors and law enforcement officers set to work without pay.
But if no deal is brokered before Monday, hundreds of thousands of federal employees are set to be furloughed.
The White House and Capitol Hill will be working with skeleton staffs, but some government agencies, like the Environmental Protection Agency, have said they were able to shift funding around to keep most workers on the job. National parks and federal museums will be open, but with potentially reduced services.
Read Saturday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.