The hallways of Congress cleared out quickly Thursday night-- members in a rush to get home even as the sequester deadline approaches.
"How can we leave for recess when we are so close to sequester and so close to what could possibly be a shutdown of government?" asked California Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D).
The sequester is a set of $1.2 trillion in spending cuts, spread out over 10 years, that will start to kick in March 1st. Both sides say the cuts are arbitrary, damaging and bound to kill jobs. But instead of negotiating to replace the cuts they are blaming each other for the impasse.
"It's time for the Senate to do their work. If they're willing to pass a bill we'll find some way to work with them to address this problem," says House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio.)
The sequester will hit the military hardest. $46 billion in cuts this year alone, around 8% of the Pentagon's budget. But the Senate headed home without resolving a dispute over the president's pick to lead the military: former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel.
"We need a Secretary of Defense who is on the job. No one knows what foreign challenge will face this country in the next 10 days," says Nevada Sen. Harry Reid (D).
But Republicans say they still have questions about Hagel's foreign policy speeches, his income and his qualifications for the job. So in a rare move, they filibustered his nomination.
"He is the wrong person at the worst time for the job. We can do better," says Arizona Sen. McCain (R).
As for the cuts, both Senate leaders Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell say they will have alternative legislation to present when Congress reconvenes on February 25th, that's four days before the cuts are set to kick in.