WASHINGTON: The US government officially shut down on Saturday, the first anniversary of President Donald Trump’s inauguration, after lawmakers failed to agree on a stop-gap spending deal.
The effect of the shutdown would be felt most from Monday when the federal government employees would not be able to join for their work and be forced to stay at home without pay. It is estimated that more than 800,000 federal employees would be furloughed. Only the essential services would be open.
Senators were still negotiating on the Senate floor as the clock turned midnight, but Trump’s office issued a statement blaming opposition Democrats for the crisis.
Spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said the Democrats’ insistence that the interim measure includes protection for undocumented immigrants who arrived as children killed the deal.
“Senate Democrats own the Schumer Shutdown,” she declared, referring to the minority leader, New York Senator Chuck Schumer, who met with Trump earlier Friday.
“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 citizen’s hostage over their reckless demands,” she warned.
The bill did not contain any provisions to protect Dreamers, which has been a key Democratic priority since Donald Trump announced in September that he was rescinding an Obama-era program, known as Daca. The program enabled young, undocumented immigrants brought to the US as children to obtain temporary legal status.
Speaking on the floor after the vote, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell assailed the shutdown as the result of a “cynical decision by the Democrats”. His opposite number, minority leader Chuck Schumer, delivered a scathing rebuke of Donald Trump, blaming the president for the shutdown. The New York Democrat said Trump “walked away from two bipartisan deals” and that “a Trump shutdown will serve as a perfect encapsulation for the chaos he has unleashed”.
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.
Trump admitted Friday that chances were “not looking good” that 11th-hour talks in Congress would break an impasse over spending and avert a US government shutdown.
Less than two-and-a-half hours before a midnight deadline to reach a short-term deal to keep the federal government running at full capacity, Trump lashed out at Democrats.
“Not looking good for our great Military or Safety & Security on the very dangerous Southern Border,” he tweeted, citing some of the government projects and agencies that will find themselves unfunded.
“Dems want a Shutdown in order to help diminish the great success of the Tax Cuts, and what they are doing for our booming economy,” he alleged.