Government to shut down at midnight

Updated
 
Speaker of the House John Boehner pauses during a news conference after a House Republican Conference meeting about the ongoing budget fight on Capitol Hill...
Speaker of the House John Boehner pauses during a news conference after a House Republican Conference meeting about the ongoing budget fight on Capitol Hill...
Evan Vucci/AP

The federal government is about to shut down.

The Office of Management and Budget issued a memo late Monday night informing officials that “agencies should now execute plans for an orderly shutdown due to the absence of appropriation.”

The move comes after House Speaker John Boehner ended a day of legislative ping-pong Monday with a procedural tactic – calling for the House and Senate to negotiate in committee. The formal process would include two lawmakers from each chamber.

Democrats rejected their repeated attempts to defund or delay Obamacare in exchange for keeping the government open, in a day of fruitless legislative ping pong.

“This is the last thing the House GOP will do before midnight,” a House Republican leadership aide told NBC News, adding that “the government would be considered shutdown during any conference committee proceedings.”

The move is a last-ditch effort by House Republicans to avoid taking the blame for a government shutdown by suggesting its willingness to negotiate. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid immediately rejected what he described as a “gambit” on the Senate floor. “Republicans are still playing games,” said Reid on the Senate floor. “This is all a subterfuge to satisfy the Tea Party-driven Republicans.”

We will not go to conference with a gun to our head,” Harry Reid said. “The first thing a House has to do is pass a clean 6-week CR.”

Once the immediate shutdown threat had been removed, Reid said he would be willing to send Senators to conference to work on a solution for funding the government through the rest of the fiscal year.

Earlier Saturday, House moderates were pressuring their caucus to pass the Senate’s “clean” stopgap budget, but Boehner ultimately heeded the calls by the conservative flank to rule out such a measure.

It’s also an abrupt about-face by Republicans who have spent months refusing Democratic offers to hold a conference and work out a budget before October 1.

The earlier budget negotiations had fallen apart after Rep. Paul Ryan demanded that Senate Democrats to make budget commitments behind closed doors ahead of times. Democrats tried to go to conference anyway to work out a long-term budget, but Republicans have repeatedly blocked their efforts to do so.

“The right thing to do was to go to conference any time in that last 6 months, as we asked 18 times but were told no by the same people who are now sitting on the other side of the aisle saying we want to shut the government down,” Murray said on the floor.

Government to shut down at midnight

Updated