US govt shuts down on President Trump’s first anniversary

20 Jan 2018


A year after President Donald Trump took office, the US government has shut down as the Democrats and Republicans failed to reach a last-minute deal to fund its operations at midnight on Friday.

A bill to extend government funding through 16 February failed to get the needed 60 votes in the 100-member Senate. Only 50 Senators supported the bill in a House divided in a bitter dispute over immigration and border security.

While Republicans have a majority in the Senate, the Democrats managed to block funding for the government until 16 February. While Republicans are scrambling to avoid a government shutdown, it is Donald Trump's working style that has put a cloud over any possible deal.

Most Democrats opposed the bill in protest against Trump's immigration bill that excluded hundreds of thousands of mostly young immigrants known as Dreamers.

Last-minute negotiations by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer before midnight failed to break ground.

Technically at least, the U S government run out of cash at midnight on Friday and the shutdown formally began on Saturday, the first anniversary of President Donald Trump's inauguration.

''Tonight, they put politics above our national security, military families, vulnerable children, and our country's ability to serve all Americans,'' the White House said in a statement.

It also said it would not discuss immigration until the government is up and running again.

''We will not negotiate the status of unlawful immigrants while Democrats hold our lawful citizens hostage over their reckless demands. This is the behavior of obstructionist losers, not legislators.''

Senate majority leader Schumer blamed Trump for failing a deal. ''It's almost as if you were rooting for a shutdown and now we'll have one and the blame should crash entirely on President Trump's shoulders,'' he said.

The shutdown may not affect White House jobs, but federal agencies across the country will not be able to operate and hundreds of thousands of ''non-essential'' federal workers will be put on temporary unpaid leave until a funding deal is worked out.

However, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives managed to get a stopgap funding bill passed with at least five Republicans voted against and five democrats voting for it on Thursday.

Democrat leaders are demanding that the measure include protections from deportation for about 700,000 undocumented immigrants known as Dreamers who arrived in the United States as children.

Trump last week rejected a bipartisan proposal saying any deal for Dreamers should b3e part of a bigger legislative package that also boosts funding for a border wall and tighter security at the U S border with Mexico.

While Schumer said he had reluctantly agreed to include the border wall in the negotiations, it was still not enough to persuade Trump to find a compromise.

Schumer also called on Trump and leaders of both parties to resume negotiations on Saturday.

In a shutdown, ''essential'' employees who deal with public safety and national security would keep working. That includes more than 1.3 million people on active duty in the military who would be required to work but would not be paid until funding is renewed or handled with separate legislation.

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