Washington (CNN) — For the first time in 17 years, the U.S. government shut down at 12:01 a.m. ET Tuesday after the House and the Senate couldn’t agree on a spending bill to fund the government.
The two sides bickered and blamed each other for more than a week over Obamacare, the president’s signature health care law. House Republicans insisted the spending bill include anti-Obamacare amendments. Senate Democrats were just as insistent that it didn’t.
About an hour after the shutdown started, House members voted to reaffirm the Obamacare amendments they previously passed, while also requesting a conference with the Senate to work out their differences.
But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid already said he would not agree to such a meeting until the House presents a clean spending bill.
"We will not go to conference with a gun to our head," Reid said late Monday night.
"Tomorrow will be a bad day for government."
Hundreds of thousands furloughed
Federal employees who are considered essential will continue working. Those deemed non-essential — more than 800,000 — will be furloughed, unsure when they’ll be able to work or get paid again.
Most furloughed federal workers are supposed to be out of their offices within four hours of the start of business Tuesday.
House Speaker John Boehner held a press conference overnight saying he hopes Senate will agree to meet.
When asked if he had a message for the 800,000 furloughed employees — or if he has a plan to restore back pay to them — Boehner responded, “The house has voted to keep the government open, but we also want basic fairness for all Americans under Obamacare.”
He then walked away from the podium.
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."
The cost of shutting down
The shutdown could cost the still-struggling U.S. economy about $1 billion a week in pay lost by furloughed federal workers. And that’s only the tip of the iceberg.
While many agencies have reserve funds and contingency plans that would give them some short-term leeway, the economic loss would snowball as the shutdown continued.
The total economic impact is likely to be at least 10 times greater than the simple calculation of lost wages of federal workers, said Brian Kessler, economist with Moody’s Analytics. His firm estimates that a three to four week shutdown will cost the economy about $55 billion.
The final hours
The shutdown appeared inevitable Monday night as House Republicans acknowledged they couldn’t overcome Senate objections to a proposal that includes provisions aimed at derailing Obamacare.
Democratic Rep. Chris Van Hollen said the reason there wasn’t a budget deal is because Republicans refused to negotiate months ago.
"They want to go to conference with 45 minutes left," Van Hollen said late Monday night. "That is a recipe for a government shutdown."
Legislative ping pong
For the second time Monday, the Senate rejected a House Republican effort to derail Obamacare by linking it to a proposal that would avert the shutdown.
The Senate voted to table House amendments that would have delayed the individual mandate in the health care law and eliminated health insurance premium subsidies for members of Congress, their staffs and the president.