Democracy Dies in Darkness

In Sight | Perspective

Six photographers take us behind the scenes of Washington's shutdown showdown

January 22, 2018 at 6:35 PM

Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont (D-Vt.) leaves the Senate Floor inside the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Saturday. (Astrid Riecken For The Washington Post/)
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), a member of the Freedom Caucus, wearily emerges from a caucus meeting in talks concerning the government shutdown looming over the House and the Senate on Capitol Hill on Thursday. (Melina Mara/The Washington Post/)

The federal government shut down in Saturday’s early morning hours, after Senate Republicans and Democrats failed to reach a deal on a short-term budget resolution. The government, including some national parks, monuments and federal agencies, remained closed on Monday, until a continuing resolution was passed — but The Washington Post’s photojournalists never stopped working.

Melina Mara, who photographs Capitol Hill on a daily basis, said the mood on Capitol Hill was quite unique. “Different mood, different circumstances, different players than the last October 2013 shutdown,” she said. “The 2018 shutdown began with the new-normal: Increased partisanship, angry faced Democrats, Republicans grumbling with frustration down hallways full of questioning journalists, and leadership unsure of what they could do differently.”

From Thursday morning, as the shutdown loomed, up to Friday’s 11:59 p.m. deadline, through the weekend and into Monday, Post photographers feverishly documented the chaos on Capitol Hill, the White House and the Washington area. Fridays on the Hill are typically quiet, with lawmakers heading home to their constituencies for the weekend, but not this time. President Trump, who had been involved in the sticking points of budget negotiations — border security and a resolution for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, otherwise known as the “Dreamers, ” or DACA — canceled his weekend trip to Mar-A-Lago.

“A brighter Monday comes with Senate moderates appearing from the Senate floor with smiles,” Mara said. “Hugs and announcements of kumbayah cooperation and working together once again. Government is back open. … But for how long?”

In the Ante Room, Speaker of the House Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) prepares before his news conference with a government shutdown looming on Thursday. (Melina Mara/The Washington Post/)
Pursued by journalists, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) leaves a meeting with White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, House and Senate leadership on Thursday. (Melina Mara/The Washington Post/)
Senate Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) walks to the Senate floor while being questioned by journalists the day before the government shutdown. (Melina Mara/The Washington Post/)
The sun sets as television crews set up their equipment at the White House with a possible government shutdown looming on Friday night. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post/)
“Dreamers” protest outside the U.S. Capitol on Thursday. (Astrid Riecken for The Washington Post/)
The West Wing of the White House is seen as the sun sets with a possible government shutdown ahead on Friday night. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post/)
A visitor at the World War II Memorial, which remained open during the shutdown, on Saturday. (Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post/)
A sign declares the National Archives Museum is closed due to the federal government shutdown on Saturday. (Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post/)
Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) speaks on his cellphone inside the Capitol on Sunday. (Oliver Contreras for The Washington Post/)
News reporters wait in the corridors around the Senate chamber for a word on last-minute negotiations, on Capitol Hill on Friday. (Oliver Contreras for The Washington Post/)
“Dreamers” protest outside the Capitol on Thursday night. (Astrid Riecken for The Washington Post/)
“Dreamers” and their supporters protest outside the Capitol on Friday. (Astrid Riecken For The Washington Post/)
Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) walks into the office of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) Sunday evening where senators gathered before votes pertaining to reopening the federal government. (Melina Mara/The Washington Post/)
At the beginning of the third day of the government shutdown Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who is bringing other fellow senators together to come with a deal to reopen the government, is on the phone working with staff in front of the closed Senate chamber. (Melina Mara/The Washington Post/)
The United States Capitol on Monday morning. (Matt McClain/The Washington Post/)
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is seen after Senate Republicans met before a vote to end the shutdown on Monday. (Matt McClain/The Washington Post/)
On the third day of the government shutdown, moderate Senators, led by Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine), gather just off the Senate after passing a procedure vote that will lead to full funding of the government. (Melina Mara/The Washington Post/)

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In Sight is The Washington Post’s photography blog for visual narrative. This platform showcases compelling and diverse imagery from staff and freelance photographers, news agencies and archives. If you are interested in submitting a story to In Sight, please complete this form.

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