The federal government officially shut down Friday night as Senate leaders failed to agree to a short-term spending deal that satisfied Democrats' concerns about immigration and raising the budget caps.
Following a late huddle in the office of Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Democrats largely united to vote against the measure passed by the House of Representatives on Thursday. The House GOP-driven continuing budget resolution would have funded the government through Feb. 16, as well as a six-year extension for the Children's Health Insurance Program.
As a result, CHIP remains in limbo at a time when several states are reaching the end of their money. They may find themselves once again contemplating when and how to terminate their programs depending on how long the shutdown lasts.
CHIP is now back in the waiting game along with expired Medicare programs and disproportionate share hospitals whose federal Medicaid payment cuts went into effect as of Oct. 1.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) put the blame squarely on Democrats, accusing them of holding the budget hostage in order to get a deal on "Dreamers" under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA. Meanwhile, Minority Leaders Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) accused GOP leaders of failing to negotiate honestly with Democrats.
McConnell said he will soon seek a vote on a continuing resolution that keeps the government funded until Feb. 8.
Delays of certain Affordable Care Act taxes, which would have gone through with the House-passed measure, are also on hold.
CHIP funding expired more than 110 days ago, and states that as recently as two days ago believed they would see their rapidly dwindling programs funded—staving off imminent plans to close their programs—are reaching a state of panic. They don't know whether to forge ahead with plans to freeze enrollment or tell families that their children will lose coverage. States also don't know how much money they have for their budgets.
The program has become an unfortunate symbol of today's political climate. Lawmakers' inter-party fighting has reached such an extreme that the popular, bipartisan program that insures 9 million kids keeps getting tossed around like a rapidly deflating political football.