WASHINGTON - 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.