SUNDAY TIMES WEB DESK: Trump said the impending shutdown of some key parts of the federal government could last “a very long time,” and he sought to blame Democrats.
They, in turn, put the blame squarely on Trump, reminding him that last week he said he would be “proud” to shut the government down in order to get funding for a wall on the US border with Mexico.
Republican and Democratic senators earlier this week reached a deal on short-term funding legislation that did not include the $5 billion Trump wants, but the president said on Thursday he would not sign it.
The impending shutdown was the latest evidence of dysfunction in Washington and does 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 toward 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 midnight deadline, lawmakers met with Vice President Mike Pence and other White House officials in a last-ditch effort to find a compromise funding bill acceptable to both political parties and Trump.
But they were unable to reach a deal. The adjournment of the House just before 7 pm and the Senate just after 8 pm ensured a government shutdown.
Senators said talks would continue over the weekend. The Senate was set to return from recess at noon (1700 GMT) on Saturday.
Congressional funding for about one-quarter of the federal government’s programs expires at midnight (0500 GMT).
Three-quarters of government programs are fully funded through next September 30, including those in the Defense Department, Labor Department and Health and Human Services. But funding for other agencies, including the departments of Homeland Security, Justice and Agriculture, was set to expire at midnight on Friday.
A partial shutdown begins with affected agencies limiting staff to those deemed “essential” to public safety.