Washington: A partial shutdown of the US federal administration began on Saturday after lawmakers failed to reach a budget agreement over President Donald Trumps border wall funding demands.
Negotiations between the House of Representatives and Senate reached a deadlock over Trump’s demand to include a $5 billion allocation in the budget for his long-promised wall along the Mexican border.
Lawmakers adjourned last-minute talks on Friday evening. This was the third partial shutdown of the Trump administration in 2018 after a three-day deadlock in January and another which lasted a few hours in February.
In the absence of the agreement, funding for about a quarter of all US federal agencies lapsed at midnight, including appropriations for the Departments of Homeland Security, Justice, Housing and Urban Development, and other parts of the government.
In this situation, hundreds of thousands of federal employees will have to work unpaid or be put on temporary leave. This time the President has said that he was ready to face a long shutdown in order to achieve his demands.
In a video address published on Trump’s Twitter account shortly before the shutdown began, the President insisted the onus was on the Democrats to resolve the closure.
Senior Democrats accused Trump of provoking the situation with a “temper tantrum”.
“We’re going to have a shutdown. There’s nothing we can do about that because we need the Democrats to give us their votes,” the President said.
Lawmakers were set to meet again on Saturday.
Trump may see this negotiation as his last opportunity to get funding for the wall — one of his major campaign promises — as the Democrats are set to gain control of the House of Representatives in January.
On Wednesday, a stopgap spending bill was passed in order to keep federal agencies open until February 8, but the agreement did not include funding for Trump’s wall.
The President then insisted funds for the wall must be included for him to sign it off.
The House on Thursday passed legislation that included Trump’s request for $5 billion for the border wall, but it was clear on Friday that that demand did not have the votes needed to pass in the Senate, and was therefore not brought up for a vote — creating more uncertainty on a path forward.
The Democrats remained resolute that US taxpayers should not pay for his plan.
In his Twitter post on Friday, Trump also said that “we don’t want people coming in that aren’t supposed to be there,” and the video appeared to show migrants pushing on a wall while he continued to say “it’s very dangerous out there,” citing drugs, human trafficking and gangs.
He had been criticized in the past for fear mongering.
“We don’t want ‘em in the US. We don’t want ‘em in our country. The only thing that’s going to stop that is great border security. With a wall! Or a slat fence, or whatever you wanna call it,” he said.
The longest administrative shutdown in US history lasted 21 days between December 1995 and January 1996 during the presidency of Bill Clinton. Former President Barack Obama faced a 16-day shutdown in 2013.