The United States, US, government has shut down following the stalemate of last-minute negotiations at the Senate which saw Democrats filibustered a four-week stopgap extension in a late-night vote.
This fourth government shutdown in a quarter century mars the one-year anniversary of President Donald Trump’s inauguration and halts all but the most essential operations in America.
With the shutdown, which occurs when Congress and the President fail to pass appropriations legislation funding government operations and agencies, national parks, museums and monuments are expected to close, and if the shutdown continues beyond a few days the processing of passports and visas will suffer.
Social Security and most other safety net programmrs are unaffected by the lapse in federal spending authority. Critical government functions will continue, with uniformed service members, health inspectors and law enforcement officers set to work without pay. But if no deal is brokered before Monday, hundreds of thousands of federal employees will be furloughed.
US federal services and military operations deemed essential will continue, but thousands of government workers will be sent home without pay until the crisis is resolved.
Meantime, Trump’s office issued a statement blaming opposition Democrats for the crisis.
White House press secretary, Sarah Sanders, said the Democrats’ insistence that the interim measure include protection for undocumented immigrants who arrived as children killed the deal, led to the shutdown.
“Senate Democrats own the Schumer Shutdown,” she said in reference to the minority leader, New York Senator Chuck Schumer, who met with Trump on Friday afternoon.
Sanders continued, “Tonight, they put politics above our national security, military families, vulnerable children, and our country’s ability to serve all Americans.
“We will not negotiate the status of unlawful immigrants while Democrats hold our lawful citizens hostage over their reckless demands.”
After hours of closed-door meetings and phone calls, the Senate scheduled its late-night vote on a house-passed plan. It gained 50 votes to proceed to 48 against, but 60 were needed to break a Democratic filibuster. A handful of red-state Democrats crossed the aisle to support the measure, rather than take the politically-risky vote. Four Republicans voted in opposition.
In an unusual move, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell allowed the roll call to exceed 90 minutes — instead of the usual 20 or so — seemingly accommodating the numerous discussions among leaders and other lawmakers. Still as midnight passed and the calendar turned, there was no obvious off-ramp to the political stalemate. Each party expressed resolve in its position — and confidence that the other would suffer the wrath of voters.
Even before the vote, Trump was pessimistic, tweeting, “Not looking good” and blaming the Democrats who he said actually wanted the shutdown “to help diminish the success” of the tax bill he and fellow Republicans pushed through last month.
Trump watched the results from his White House residence, dialling up allies and affirming his belief that Democrats would take the blame for the shutdown, said a person familiar with his conversations but not authorised to discuss them publicly.