The U.S. Government has officially shut down at midnight Friday following the inability of Republican and Democrats senators to reach a compromise on the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) programme and build a wall along the Mexican border.
Congress also failed to reach an agreement to a limit on how much Congress could spend on military and domestic programmes in order to keep the government open.
A shutdown occurs when Congress and the president fail to sign into law 12 appropriation bills, which determine spending for specific government agencies, in order to continue providing funding for government operations.
With the situation, Federal Government employees would be forced to shut down nonessential services while essential staff at top level agencies would continue working but employees are not sure when they would get their salaries.
A government shutdown could last for days or weeks as long as it takes Congressional leaders from both parties to reach an agreement to fund the government, but not months.
A temporary spending bill was passed in the House of Representatives on Thursday night with 230 to 197, but a concurrent 60 votes was required in the Senate to advance a short-term spending bill to fund the government and avoid a shutdown.
However, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said: “The overwhelming number in our caucus have said they don’t like this deal and they believe if we kick the can down the road this time we’ll be back where we started from next time. So there’s very, very strong support not to go along with their deal.”
Consequently, the final vote in the Senate as at midnight ended 50 to 49, for and against respectively, short of the required 60 votes in order to break a filibuster, while Sen. John McCain was absent.
Hours before the shutdown, Trump had laid the entire blame at the doorstep of Democrats.
Tweeting on Friday morning, Trump said: “Government Funding Bill past [sic] last night in the House of Representatives.
“Now Democrats are needed if it is to pass in the Senate – but they want illegal immigration and weak borders. Shutdown coming? We need more Republican victories in 2018!”
The White House, in a statement by Press Secretary Sarah Sanders reacting to the government shutdown, said Senate Democrats owned the unfortunate event and blamed “obstructionist losers” for failing to reach a deal.
The statement read: “Senate Democrats own the Schumer Shutdown. 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. This is the behaviour of obstructionist losers, not legislators.
“When Democrats start paying our armed forces and first responders we will reopen negotiations on immigration reform. During this politically manufactured Schumer Shutdown, the President and his Administration will fight for and protect the American people.”
Vice President Mike Pence in a statement also criticised the Democrats, saying: “Our administration worked in good faith to put a bipartisan deal on the table that would strengthen our borders, end chain migration, eliminate the visa lottery, and deal compassionately with DACA.
“But rather than solve problems, Democratic leadership preferred a shutdown that has dangerous consequences for our national defense.
“Their action tonight- or lack thereof- is unconscionable. Our administration will do everything within our power to support the brave men and women in uniform who stand on the frontlines of freedom.
“But as of tonight, due to a completely avoidable government shutdown, they’ll stand their post without pay.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell also laid the shutdown at the Democrats’ feet, blasting Democrats from the Senate floor where he said the shutdown “was 100 per cent avoidable”.
McConnell asked: “What has their filibuster accomplished? What does it accomplish? The answer is simple. Their own government shutdown.
“I don’t think it makes the institution looks very responsible. The American people should expect better from us.” (NAN)