For the first time in a generation, lawmakers could not agree on a federal spending bill before the fiscal clock wound down, forcing the government to shut down.
Congress had until midnight Monday to approve a continuing resolution to keep the government open. But Senate Democrats balked at House Republicans' repeated insistence, laid out in a handful of bills, to delay or snip at ObamaCare in exchange for funding the government. And House Republicans wouldn't accept bills stripped of that language sent to them by Senate Democrats.
So what happens now?
Senate Democrats have insisted they will not pass anything that undercuts ObamaCare, and even if they did, President Obama would quickly veto it. "You don't get to extract a ransom for doing your job, for doing what you're supposed to be doing anyway, or just because there's a law there you don't like," Obama said Monday, hours before the shutdown.
It's a good bet that Obama will stick to that strategy, and not only because conceding to Republicans would establish a pattern in which a single branch in Congress could make demands of the executive branch by holding the economy hostage. As the shutdown began, Obama enjoyed the benefit of public opinion.
A Washington Post/ABC poll released on Monday showed that only one in four Americans approved of how Republicans approached budget negotiations. If the backlash against a shutdown picks up, Republicans could feel even more heat.