US government shuts down after spending bill collapses in Senate
Washington : The US government began shutting down on Saturday for the first time in more than four years after Senate Democrats blocked consideration of a stopgap spending measure to keep the government operating, marking a chaotic end to Donald Trump's first year as President.
Both Democrats and Republicans blamed each other for the failure to pass the new budget as hundreds of thousands of federal workers were now facing the prospect of no work and shuttered offices on Monday morning.
The bill to fund the federal government until February 16 did not receive the required 60 votes amid a bitter dispute over immigration and border security.
Trump, in a series of tweets on Saturday, accused Democrats of putting politics above the interests of the American people.
"Democrats are far more concerned with Illegal Immigrants than they are with our great military or safety at our dangerous southern border. They could have easily made a deal but decided to play shutdown politics instead. #WeNeedMoreRepublicansIn18 in order to power through mess!"
"This is the one year anniversary of my presidency and the Democrats wanted to give me a nice present. #DemocratShutdown," he said in another tweet.
But leading Senate Democrat, Chuck Schumer, blamed the President, saying that Trump had turned down two bipartisan compromise deals and "did not press his party in Congress". He called the event "the Trump shutdown" whereas the Republicans labelled it "Schumer shutdown", CNN reported.
This is the first modern government shutdown with Congress and the White House controlled by the same party.
Democrats are demanding protection from deportation of more than 700,000 undocumented immigrants known as "Dreamers" brought to the US as children.
The Republicans, however, want funding for border security, including the border wall with Mexico, and immigration reforms as well as increased military spending.
Officials said that now over one million active-duty military personnel will serve with no lapse, but could not be paid until the shutdown ends. Most staff in the Departments of Housing, Environment, Education and Commerce will stay at home.
Half of workers in the Treasury, Health, Defence and Transportation Departments will also not be going to work on Monday. National parks and monuments could face closure. Visa and passport processing could also be delayed.
However, essential services that protect "life or human property" will continue, including national security, postal services, air traffic control, inpatient medical services, disaster assistance, prisons, taxation and electricity generation.
Despite the ongoing blame game, both the Republican and Democrat Congressional leaders said they will keep talking over the weekend. The White House budget chief expressed optimism that a resolution will be found soon.
But the White House maintained its stand that it would "not negotiate the status of unlawful immigrants".
The budget proposal presented by the Republicans on Friday night got more votes in favour (50) than against (48), but they were insufficient to approve funds. Four Republicans voted against the bill while five Democrats broke rank to support it.
Earlier on Thursday night, the House of Representatives voted 230-197 to extend funding until February.
Officials said Trump may travel on Air Force One to carry out his constitutional responsibilities, including a planned trip next week to Davos, Switzerland -- although it was unclear whether trips to Mar-a-Lago, his exclusive club in Florida, would fall into that category.
Trump cancelled his plans to travel to his resort due to the crisis, a White House official said. The US President was due to host a party there -- with attendees paying as much as $250,000.
The last government shutdown was in 2013 and lasted for 16 days.