U.S. government shuts down as Congress was unable to pass a budget

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

Washington, D. C. - The U.S. government shut down at 12:01 a.m. ET Tuesday after lawmakers in the House and the Senate could not agree on a spending bill to fund the government.

Federal employees who are considered essential will continue working. But employees deemed non-essential — close to 800,000 will be furloughed.

Most furloughed federal workers are supposed to be out of their offices within four hours of the start of business Tuesday.

President Barack Obama issued a statement early Tuesday to military members and Department of Defense employees about the outcome of the shutdown.

“Those of you in uniform will remain on your normal duty status,” the president said. “Congress has passed, and I am signing into law, legislation to make sure you get your paychecks on time. And we’ll continue working to address any impact this shutdown has on you and your families.”

“To all our DOD civilians—I know the days ahead could mean more uncertainty, including possible furloughs,” the president added. “And I know this comes on top of the furloughs that many of you already endured this summer. You and your families deserve better than the dysfunction we’re seeing in Congress. … That’s why I’ll keep working to get Congress to reopen our government and get you back to work as soon as possible.”

Anyone deemed not essential by their agency or department, or more than 40% of the federal workforce. That includes about half of civilian defense workers. All active-duty military personnel are expected at work Tuesday. Still on the job are federal workers whose duties include protecting public health, safety or property. Also, federal employees whose jobs are funded by user fees or permanent spending laws will be working, as will political appointees.

The House voted 228-199 early Tuesday to start formal negotiations with the Senate on a bill to fund the government for six weeks. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., was appointed to lead the talks for the House - if they ever happen. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., is insisting that there will be no negotiations under the present circumstances. The Senate will convene at 9:30 a.m. ET. The House's workday begins at 10 a.m. ET.

President Obama is meeting at noon today at the White House with beneficiaries of the Affordable Care Act. Obama has told Republicans repeatedly he will not give in to anything that undermines the health care law, and chided them for trying to "refight the results of an election." He telephoned congressional leaders on Monday to say it's up to them to pass a budget on time.