The US government has partially shutdown after Republican lawmakers in the Senate failed to gain enough votes to approve $5 billion that President Donald Trump wants for a wall on the US-Mexico border fiercely opposed by Democrats in Congress.
Frantic negotiations by lawmakers at both chambers of Congress on Friday failed to reach a deal, sending parts of the federal government into paralysis at midnight.
The 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.
Trump sought to blame Democrats for the shutdown, who responded by reminding him that he said last week he would be “proud” to shut down key parts of the federal government in order to get funding for the wall.
Trump also warned of “a very long” government shutdown in a tweet on Friday, and described it as “great.”
“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.
Talks between Trump’s team and leaders of both political parties in Congress to resolve the crisis were expected to continue over the weekend.
The Departments impacted would include the Homeland Security, Transport, Commerce, State, Agriculture, Interior, Treasury and Housing and Urban Development.
Some 380,000 federal workers would be furloughed — put on unpaid leave — including 52,000 employees of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
Another 420,000 workers considered essential personnel would work without pay including 41,000 federal law enforcement and correctional officers and others such as aviation and postal workers.
This is the third time the federal government has shut down in 2018. The first shutdown was on January 20 and ended two days later. The second funding gap occurred on February 9, lasting for one day.
Whenever there is a government shutdown, Republicans and Democrats typically fight to blame each other.
Trump made a wall along the US-Mexican border to combat illegal immigration and drug trafficking a key election campaign promise in the 2016 election. He also sees it as a winning issue for his 2020 re-election campaign.
Democrats oppose the wall, calling it unnecessary and ineffective.
The latest showdown has added to tensions in Washington as lawmakers also grappled with Trump’s sudden move to pull troops from Syria, which prompted Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to resign.