The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

The drama of the overnight shutdown, hour by hour

The government shut down for the second time in three weeks on Feb. 9. (Video: Bastien Inzaurralde, Amber Ferguson/The Washington Post, Photo: Melina Mara/The Washington Post)

While most of us were sleeping, the government shut down for the second time in as many months.

And while a shutdown was always a possibility as Congress raced to pass a spending deal by 12:01 a.m. Friday, the odds spiked dramatically when Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) took the Senate floor.

Here's what happened.

Thursday evening, approximately seven hours until shutdown: Congress is cutting it close. The government only has a few hours left of funding, and the Senate is just now voting on a two-year spending deal its leaders put together to keep the government open.

But the drama isn't expected to be in the Senate, since this is the chamber where this deal originated. Everyone is more nervous about the House of Representatives, where House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) must wrangle enough conservatives who are skeptical about adding to billions to the deficit and House Democrats upset that Congress still has no decision on “dreamers.”

Six hours and seven minutes until shutdown: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) moves to vote on a two-year spending bill. But to avoid drama, he plans to have it voted on by a technique called unanimous consent. Staying silent is considered a yes vote. Speaking out is considered a no vote. This voting method is usually used for noncontroversial bills.

To McConnell's enormous frustration, someone spoke out.

Six hours until shutdown: Paul is filibustering the spending bill. Meaning, he can talk as long as he wants/physically can, and the Senate can't vote until he's done.

Paul's objection centers on how much the bill will cost taxpayers. A few months ago, Republicans passed a tax bill that was estimated to add $1.5 trillion to the national debt over the next 10 years, even when you factor in economic growth. This bill raises spending by an additional $400 million. Paul wants a vote on his amendment that essentially makes senators say they broke a pledge to rein in spending. Leaders refuse to give it to him, concerned that could create an all-night marathon of amendment votes from other senators.

The ordeal ends up taking the whole night anyway.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) on Feb. 8 opposed a bipartisan budget deal and delayed a vote on the measure in the Senate, calling the GOP “complicit in the deficits.” (Video: U.S. Senate)

Five hours, 12 minutes until shutdown: This could be a long night. Paul is no stranger to filibusters. He's in the record books for his 2013 filibuster against the confirmation of CIA Director John Brennan. Paul spoke for 12 hours, 52 minutes against President Obama's drone policy, making it the ninth-longest speech in Senate history.

House conservatives who share Paul's frustration about spending start to rally for him.

4 hours, 55 minutes until shutdown: Paul ends his filibuster. But as senators move to call for a vote, Paul continuously objects. He won't accept a vote for anything earlier than 1 a.m. — one hour after the government will shut down, and the soonest Senate rules would allow a vote on it after Paul’s filibuster.

Four hours until a shutdown. Leaders switch tactics and decide they have to hold a regular-old vote, which, because of Paul's filibuster, means they need 60 votes to clear this spending bill and have to go through several extra procedural steps to do it.

12 a.m. Friday: The government shuts down.

It's also technically a new day, so the Senate quickly clocks back out and in. The chaplain says a daily prayer.

One hour, 30 minutes after shutdown: It's the vote before the vote to end the shutdown. Leaders need 60 senators; they get 73.

One hour, 45 minutes after shutdown: The Senate takes its final vote to end the shutdown. They need a simple majority; they get 71 yes and 28 no. Fifteen other Senate Republicans join Paul in voting against the spending bill, while the rest of the votes are Democrats frustrated by a lack of an immigration deal.

Three hours, 21 minutes after shutdown: The spending bill arrives on the House floor for a vote. Remember, no one was certain of the outcome. And, after watching the drama in the Senate, everyone is on edge.

Three hours, 33 minutes after shutdown: Democrats make a last-ditch procedural move to force the House to vote on a bill protecting dreamers. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) seized the floor for eight hours Wednesday for a rare House filibuster, demanding a vote to protect dreamers in exchange for her vote on a spending bill.

But Republicans have the majority, so Democrats' effort is defeated.

Five hours, 17 minutes after shutdown: The night's already been long, and House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) warns lawmakers it could get even longer if they don't fall in line.

Five hours, 35 minutes after shutdown: Sometimes, a lack of sleep is all it takes. The House passes the Senate bill to fund the government for the next two years, significantly funding domestic programs, disaster aid, opioid-addiction treatment, veterans' programs and the Children's Health Insurance Program, as well as boosting defense spending by billions of dollars.

The bill is carried by Republicans as 119 House Democrats join Pelosi to vote against it.

Eight hours, 45 minutes after shutdown: Trump signs the bill to end the second shutdown of his presidency.