(THE HILL) A sense of the absurd spread on the Senate floor as lawmakers voted a second time within hours to reject a House-passed funding stopgap shortly before a midnight deadline to avoid a government shutdown.

Senators defeated the House proposal along party lines, 54-46 There were no defections. The measure would have delayed the individual mandate, a core piece of the Affordable Care Act, and prevented congressional lawmakers and staff from receiving federal subsidies when they enter healthcare exchanges.

The situation appeared surreal to lawmakers as the clock ticked toward midnight and there appeared no evidence of progress or even negotiations between the two sides.

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