US government shutdown ensured after House adjourns with no agreement

US government shutdown ensured after House adjourns with no agreement

December 23, 2018

Washington: The US government was headed toward a partial shutdown at midnight on Friday in the US after President Donald Trump's fellow Republicans in the Senate failed to muster the votes needed to approve $US5 billion 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,” and he sought to blame Democrats.

The US Capitol is seen under early morning gray skies in Washington.Credit:AP

They, in turn, put the blame squarely on him for his Thursday demand for wall funding after earlier backing bipartisan short-term government funding legislation passed by the Senate on Wednesday without any such money.

The impending shutdown was the latest evidence of dysfunction in Washington 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.

US President Donald Trump attends a ceremony where he signed an executive order establishing the White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House.Credit:AP

"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, lawmakers met with 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 programs expires at midnight US time (4pm AEDT), 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.

Before meeting with Senate Republicans at the White House, Trump wrote on Twitter that "Democrats now own the shutdown," despite having said last week that he would be "proud" to close the federal government over the issue of border security and "I'll be the one to shut it down."

The House adjourned just before 7pm (Washington time) without approving government funding, all but ensuring a government shutdown.

Negotiators were discussing $US1.6 billion 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 $US1.6 billion would only be $US300 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.

A wall along the US-Mexican border to combat illegal immigration and drug trafficking was a key Trump campaign promise in the 2016 election, when he said it would be paid for by Mexico, and he sees it as a winning issue for his 2020 re-election campaign. Democrats oppose the wall, calling it unnecessary and ineffective.


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