US government shuts down over Mexican wall standoff
Issued on: Modified:
The US goverment has partially shut down following a deadlock between Democrats and Republicans on funding President Donald Trump's proposed wall at the Mexican border.
The US government began a Christmas shutdown early Saturday, after Congress adjourned without passing a federal spending bill or addressing President Donald Trump's demand for money to build a border wall.
Operations for several key agencies ceased at 12:01 am Saturday (0501 GMT), despite last-ditch talks that continued on Capitol Hill between White House officials and congressional leaders in both parties.
Trump has dug in on his demand for $5 billion for construction of a wall on the US border with Mexico. Democrats are staunchly opposed, and the absence of a deal means federal funds for dozens of agencies lapsed when the clock struck midnight.
No pay for 800,000 government workers
The shutdown is the third this year and Trump has promised that this one may be a "very long" one if Democrats do not give their approval.
Some 800,000 federal employees will be either furloughed or forced to work without pay in the run-up to the Christmas holiday.
But the prospect of a large portion of government workers going without pay checks was not enough to spur lawmakers or the president to action.
The House of Representatives adjourned just before 7:00 pm Friday, with no moves taken to avert a shutdown, and the Senate closed up shop an hour later.
Both are due back in session at midday on Saturday.
Critical security operations to continue
About three-quarters of the government, including the military and the Department of Health and Human Services, is fully funded until the end of September 2019.
Most NASA employees will be sent home, as will Commerce Department workers and many at the Departments of Homeland Security, Justice, Agriculture and State.
While most critical security functions will be operational, the effects of the budget wrangling and uncertainty have cast an air of chaos over the capital, which is also reeling from the resignation announcement Thursday by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.
The Grinch who stole Christmas
Democrat congresswoman Kathleen Rice slammed the shutdown and said the president and Republicans had decided to "hold this country hostage" over the border wall.
The tabloid New York Daily News used its front page to paint Trump as Dr. Seuss’ fictional character The Grinch, headlining: “How The Trump Stole Christmas!”
It could be head wasn't screwed on just right. It could be, perhaps, that his shoes were too tight. But we think that the most likely reason of all may have been that his heart was two sizes too small. https://t.co/Vf44qMAj8mNew York Daily News (@NYDailyNews) 22 December 2018
An early look at Saturday's front cover... pic.twitter.com/9sah0EwdBP
Daily newsletterReceive essential international news every morningSubscribe