US gov’t heads for shutdown after politicians fail to make a deal | Trump News


The US government was headed toward a partial shutdown at midnight on Friday after President Donald Trump’s fellow Republicans in the Senate failed to muster the votes needed to approve $5bn he has demanded for a border wall fiercely opposed by Democrats.

Trump said the impending shutdown of key parts of the federal government could last “a very long time”. Democrats put the blame squarely on Trump for refusing to back down.

The impending shutdown is the latest evidence of dysfunction in Washington, DC and might not bode well for next year, when Democrats will have a stronger hand as they take control of the House of Representatives.

“President Trump has thrown a temper tantrum and now has us careening towards a ‘Trump shutdown’ over Christmas,” Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said on the Senate floor.

“You’re not getting the wall today, next week or on January 3rd, when Democrats take control of the House,” Schumer added.

Hours before the deadline, politicians met Vice President Mike Pence and other White House officials in a last-ditch effort to find a compromise government funding bill acceptable to both political parties and Trump. There was little indication any such agreement was imminent, but senators said talks would continue.

Congressional funding for about one-quarter of the federal government’s programmes expires at midnight (05:00 GMT), and a shutdown would ensue if Congress, controlled by Trump’s fellow Republicans, does not pass legislation to provide money to keep the agencies open. 

Trump’s defiance on Friday came despite indications from the White House earlier in the week that the administration had found an alternative way to get the money needed for the wall.

In a series of early morning tweets on Friday, Trump lashed out at Senate Democrats, and encouraged Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, to attempt to change Senate rules, often called the “nuclear option”, to get the funding through. Trump has previously said he would be “proud” to shut down the government “for border security”.

The House adjourned just before 7pm (00:00 GMT on Saturday) without approving government funding, all but ensuring a government shutdown.

Negotiators were discussing $1.6bn for a range of border security measures – not specifically for a wall – and retaining financial assistance for areas hit by natural disasters that was added by the House, according to a Republican Senate aide.

That $1.6bn would only be $300 million more than the amount the Senate approved in a temporary funding bill it passed late on Wednesday.

“It’s possible that we’ll have a shutdown. I would say the chances are probably very good,” Trump said at the White House. 

“We’re going to get a wall,” Trump added.

Trump’s border wall was a key campaign promise in the 2016 election, when he said it would be paid for by Mexico, and sees it as a winning issue for his 2020 re-election campaign.

Procedural vote

With Pence casting a tie-breaking vote, the Senate, where Republicans have a 51-49 majority, passed a procedural measure on Friday related to legislation approved by the House on Thursday with the wall money that Trump wanted. But Senate Republicans came up short of the votes needed to pass the wall funding.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the procedural vote merely ensured the White House and Democrats could keep discussing a potential compromise to avert a shutdown. Schumer said he was willing to continue talks. A Schumer spokesman said the senator met with Pence, Trump’s new chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, and Trump son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner. 

“There are some people on the White House team who think this can be done in hours. There are others that think it takes 24 (hours),” Republican Senator Bob Corker said.

Republican Senators Lamar Alexander and Marco Rubio expressed frustration with what they said was a shifting position by the White House. Rubio said that earlier in the week the Republicans went with their funding bill, which included $1.3bn for general border security but nothing specifically for a wall, because Pence had told them the White House was open to such a proposal.

“We had a reasonable path and there was every indication from the president that he would sign it,” Alexander said.

Who will be affected?

The possibility of a government shutdown fed investor anxieties that contributed to another down day on Friday for US stocks. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 1.82 percent, the S&P 500 lost 2.06 percent and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 2.99 percent.

The showdown added to tensions in Washington as lawmakers also grappled with Trump’s sudden move to pull troops from Syria, which prompted Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to resign and furthered concerns over the investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 election that Trump won. 

Three-quarters of government programmes are fully funded through the end of the federal fiscal year next September 30, including those in the Defense Department, Labor Department and Health and Human Services. Funding for other agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security, Justice Department and Agriculture Department, was set to expire at midnight on Friday.

A partial government shutdown could begin with affected agencies limiting staff to those deemed “essential” to public safety. Such critical workers, including U.S. border agents, and nonessential employees would not get paid until the dispute ends. National parks also would close unless the government declares them essential.

More than half of the 1,700 people who work for the executive office of the president would be furloughed.

Most Americans want Trump to compromise, polling suggests

Trump’s border wall was a key campaign promise in the 2016 election, when he said it would be paid for by Mexico, and sees it as a winning issue for his 2020 re-election campaign.

But according to recent polling, most Americans want Trump to compromise on a border wall to avoid a possible shutdown. 

An NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist Poll found that more than half (57 percent) of Americans believe the president should compromise on the wall to avoid a government shutdown. About 37 percent said he should not.

When examining just Republican responses, however, about two-thirds believe the president should not compromise.

In another poll by CBS, about 59 percent of Americans oppose building a wall along the southern border. The poll from mid-November, however, showed that 79 percent of Republicans supported building the wall.


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