WASHINGTON, D.C. (AP) - UPDATE: (9:50 p.m. Alaska time) :
A bipartisan budget pact has cleared a key hurdle in the Senate and should shortly be sent to the House as lawmakers work in the pre-dawn hours to re-open the government.
The measure's advance had been delayed by Kentucky GOP Sen. Rand Paul, who protested the budget-busting measure. It's married to a six-week government-wide spending bill that's required to reverse the shutdown.
Senator Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) said the bipartisan deal, while far from perfect, adequately funds the government and gives military men and women the resources they need to complete their missions.
In a statement Thursday night, Sullivan wrote “Importantly, this legislation moves us away from a patchwork of short-term spending bills that severely undermine our military’s readiness and ability to protect our nation. It lifts the stranglehold sequestration has had on our Armed Forces, which resulted in a 25 percent cut to our military between 2010-2016. Those cuts have hampered our military’s ability to deter aggression and to respond to threats from countries like Russia and North Korea. This agreement paves the way for critical investments for our veterans, our nation’s aging infrastructure, community health centers, and efforts to combat our nation’s growing opioid epidemic."
UPDATE: (8:35 p.m. Alaska time):
The Office of Management and Budget has officially ordered the U.S. government closed.
OMB Director Mick Mulvaney issued the order at midnight, notifying federal agencies they should execute their contingency plans.
Mulvaney's notice says federal employees should report to work Friday to "undertake orderly shutdown activities."
He notes that his office is "hopeful that this lapse in appropriations will be of short duration."
UPDATE (7:00 p.m. Alaska time):
A short government shutdown is assured as the Senate has recessed until just after a Thursday midnight deadline to pass a temporary funding bill.
Kentucky GOP Sen. Rand Paul sparked the shutdown after blocking repeated attempts by GOP leaders to speed up a vote on the stopgap funding bill, which is attached to a huge bipartisan budget agreement.
Paul is protesting that the bill would usher in the return of trillion-dollar budget deficits.
The Senate is likely to vote to reopen the government in the wee hours Friday. A House vote would follow, but it's possible that federal agencies will have to implement temporary shutdown plans if clearing the funding bill takes too long.
Essential government functions will continue regardless.
The Trump administration is preparing for the second federal government shutdown in as many months.
The Office of Management and Budget says it is currently preparing for a lapse in appropriations. Lawmakers are facing a midnight (eastern time) deadline to keep the government open.
Sen. Rand Paul says he is prepared to keep the Senate in session all night to protest a bipartisan budget deal that increases the federal deficit by hundreds of billions of dollars.
The Kentucky Republican says he expects the Senate to vote on the budget bill after 1 a.m. Friday - and possibly several hours after a midnight deadline to avert a second government shutdown in three weeks.
Paul tells The Associated Press he knows his protest against the bill is likely to fail, but says it is important to point out that the last-minute agreement could increase the federal deficit by as much as $1 trillion.
He says senators will likely pass the bill, adding, "They'll be tired and ornery, but it's their own fault."
The No. 2 House Democrat says it's time for a 24-hour stopgap spending bill to avert any chance of a government shutdown at midnight Thursday.
Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland says Democrats would support such a move.
A House GOP aide says leaders are not inclined to take Hoyer up on his offer, and says they are determined to vote even if there is a brief shutdown. The aide requested anonymity because leadership deliberations are secret.