The federal government has shut down once again, after rogue Senate Republican Rand Paul blocked a speedy vote on a massive, bipartisan, budget-busting spending deal.

With passage of the spending bill anticipated before dawn to end the shutdown, aides brought pizza into Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's office to prepare for a long night.

Paul held up voting on the broad two-year spending measure Thursday night in hopes of reversing its nearly $400billion in spending increases. He asked Senate leaders to allow a vote on his amendment to maintain current spending ceilings, but was rebuffed.

'I ran for office because I was very critical of President Obama's trillion-dollar deficits,' the Kentucky senator said.

'Now we have Republicans hand in hand with Democrats offering us trillion-dollar deficits. I can't in all honesty look the other way.'

Once Paul's power to block the vote ran out at around 1am on Friday, the Senate voted 71-28 to approve the government spending bill.

The House was expected to vote on the bill in the next several hours, with passage and signing by the president likely before dawn on Friday.

The shutdown comes less than a month after the three-day interruption in January, when Democrats blocked a vote on a spending bill to demand concessions for 'Dreamers'.

While the government's authority to spend some money expired at midnight, there weren't likely to be many clear immediate effects.

Essential personnel would remain on the job regardless, and it appeared possible - if not likely - that the measure could pass both the Senate and House before most federal employees were due to report for work.

If the measure passes in the wee hours of the morning, the government would open in the morning on schedule, said John Czwartacki, spokesman for the Office of Management and Budget, the agency responsible for coordinating any shutdown.

At the White House, there appeared to be little sense of concern. Aides closed shop early in the night, with no comment on the display on the Hill. The president did not tweet.

Still, agencies brought out now-familiar shutdown contingency plans. If it lasts, the partial shutdown would essentially force half the federal workforce to stay home, freeze some operations and close some parks and outposts. Services deemed essential would continue, including Social Security payments, the air traffic control system and law enforcement.

Frustrations were clear in both sides of the Capitol, where just hours earlier leaders had been optimistic that the budget deal was a sign they had left behind some of their chronic dysfunction.

Senate Democrats sparked a three-day partial government shutdown last month by filibustering a spending bill, seeking relief for 'Dreamer' immigrants who've lived in the country illegally since they were children.

This time it was a Republican's turn to throw a wrench in the works.

Paul brushed off pleas from his fellow Republicans, who billed the budget plan as an 'emergency' measure needed for a depleted military.

'We will effectively shut down the federal government for no good reason,' said Senate John Cornyn, as his requests to move to a vote were repeatedly rejected by Paul.

'I didn't come up here to be part of somebody's club. I didn't come up here to be liked,' he said.

Approval in the Senate seemed assured - eventually - but the situation in the House remained dicey.

In that chamber, both progressive Democrats and tea party Republicans opposed the measure, which contains roughly $400billion in new spending for the Pentagon, domestic agencies, disaster relief and extending a host of health care provisions.

However, House GOP leaders were confident they had shored up support among conservatives for the measure, which would shower the Pentagon with money but add hundreds of billions of dollars to the nation's $20 trillion-plus debt.

House Democratic leaders opposed the measure - arguing it should resolve the plight of immigrant 'Dreamers' who face deportation after being brought to the U.S. illegally as children - but not with all their might.

The legislation doesn't address immigration, though Republican Speaker Paul Ryan said again Thursday he was determined to bring an immigration bill to the floor this year, albeit only one that has President Donald Trump's blessing.

Meanwhile, House Democratic Leader Nancy Peolsi has said she won't support the funding bill until Speaker Paul Ryan promises to hold a floor vote on 'Dreamers'.

At a late afternoon meeting, Pelosi made it plain that she wasn't pressuring fellow Democrats to kill the bill, which is packed with money for party priorities like infrastructure, combating opioid abuse and help for college students.

Still, it represented a bitter defeat for Democrats who followed a risky strategy to use the party's leverage on the budget to address immigration and ended up scalded by last month's three-day government shutdown.

Republicans were sheepish about the bushels 


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