WASHINGTON - The U.S. federal government has begun a partial shutdown of its operations.
About a quarter of the government ran out of funds at 12:01 a.m. Saturday, Washington time. More than 800,000 federal employees’ jobs have been disrupted and more than half of those employees are required to work without pay.
The U.S. Senate and House of Representatives adjourned late Friday without passing a federal spending bill that provides President Donald Trump with the $5 billion that he insists is needed to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border in addition to appropriations for government agencies.
Lawmakers had until midnight to enact a measure to keep the government fully funded.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Speaker-designate Nancy Pelosi issued a joint statement Saturday saying, “Democrats have offered Republicans multiple proposals to keep the government open, including one that already passed the Senate unanimously, and all of which include funding for strong, sensible, and effective border security — not the president’s ineffective and expensive wall. If President Trump and Republicans choose to continue this Trump shutdown, the new House Democratic majority will swiftly pass legislation to re-open government in January.”
Trump tweeted a video late Friday, saying “we’re going to have a shutdown. There’s nothing we can do about that.”
?Senate advances House bill
Earlier Friday, the Senate voted to advance a House-passed bill that included funding for the wall. The procedural vote gave the Senate “flexibility” to continue negotiating, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told The Washington Post that Democrats were open to discussions but would not agree to any new money for a border wall.
After previously saying he would “proudly” accept responsibility for a partial U.S. government shutdown if Congress does not pass legislation that includes funding for his proposed border wall, Trump early Friday tweeted, “The Democrats now own the shutdown!”
Friday afternoon he tweeted:
The Democrats, whose votes we need in the Senate, will probably vote against Border Security and the Wall even though they know it is DESPERATELY NEEDED. If the Dems vote no, there will be a shutdown that will last for a very long time. People don’t want Open Borders and Crime!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 21, 2018
Congress will be back in session Saturday, but no votes are scheduled at the present time.
House bill has wall funds
On Thursday, the Republican-led House of Representatives passed a temporary spending bill that included billions for Trump’s proposed wall along the southern U.S. border.
Trump repeatedly has demanded funds to build the wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, and he told House Republican leaders he would not sign a bill that did not include funding for the wall.
Schumer told colleagues Friday on the Senate floor that Trump is making unilateral decisions that are creating chaos throughout the world.
“All of this turmoil is causing chaos in the markets, chaos abroad and it’s making the United States less prosperous and less secure,” Schumer said. “There are not the votes in the Senate for an expensive taxpayer-funded border wall. So President Trump you will not get your wall. Abandon your shutdown strategy. You’re not getting your wall today, next week or on January 3rd when Democrats take control of the House.”
McConnell argued for the wall’s funding, saying, “The need for greater security on our southern border is not some partisan invention. It’s an empirical fact and the need is only growing.”
Frustration with Congress
Trump has voiced increasing frustration that Congress has refused his request for a $5 billion down payment on the $20 billion wall he says will thwart illegal immigration. Construction of the wall was a popular rallying cry at Trump campaign events during his successful 2016 run for the White House. Trump also told his supporters that Mexico would pay for the wall.
The dispute is occurring in the last days of Republican control of both houses of Congress.
Democrats, adamantly opposed to Trump’s wall proposal, picked up 40 seats in the 435-member House of Representatives in the November elections and are set assume control in early January, although Republicans will maintain their edge in the Senate.