Despite overnight talks, the failure of Congress to agree on a budget plan caused the government shutdown to begin at 12:01 a.m. on Oct. 1, 2013.
According to CNN, this is the first government shutdown since Bill Clinton was president in 1995. That shutdown, also the result of Congress not passing a federal budget, lasted a total of 28 days.
Essential government workers will remain on the job while those considered non-essential will be on non-paid furlough status until the budget battle is resolved.
Front and center in the debate is the Affordable Care Act, also referred to as Obamacare. The Democrat-led Senate and Republican-led House of Representatives remain at odds about the health care act.
The House passed a short-term spending bill to fund the government through mid-December; however, the bill would have delayed for a year the health care law's requirement that all individuals must carry health insurance or face a penalty.
The House version of the bill, which also limited government subsidies for lawmakers' health care premiums, passed by a vote of 228-201 just before midnight.
The Senate shot down the House bill by a vote of 54-46. Democrats in the Senate have stated they will not support any funding bill which contains provisions affecting the health care act.
Government workers and travelers will be hard hit by the government shutdown. All national parks will be closed until Congress negotiates a budget deal.
Although the Washington Metro will continue to run, very few government workers will be riding and many tourist destinations will be closed, including the Smithsonian Museums and the National Zoo.
A last-minute agreement between Congress and President Obama ensures that the military will be paid. However, many civilian employees will be furloughed.
Mail delivery will not be impacted since the Postal Service operates on earned revenue, not money from the government. Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid payments will not be affected either.
Furloughed workers will probably be paid once the financial crisis passes. However, a larger budget crisis looms ahead. The U.S. Treasury will reach the debt ceiling in mid-October.
The Department of Treasury website states that Congress has acted 78 times since 1960 to raise the debt limit, including seven times under President Obama.