US House, Senate Adjourn, Partial Government Shutdown Assured
The U.S. Senate and House of Representatives adjourned late Friday, assuring the partial shutdown of federal government operations.
Lawmakers had until midnight in Washington to enact a spending bill, with no action now possible portions of the federal government will close.
President Donald Trump tweeted a video late Friday, saying “we’re going to have a shutdown. There’s nothing we can do about that.”
Congress will be back in session Saturday, but no votes are scheduled at the present time. Operations for about a quarter of the government will cease early Saturday, meaning more than 800,000 federal employees’ jobs would be disrupted, and more than half of those employees would be required to work without pay.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell indicated that while talks were continuing among lawmakers and with the White House, no deal on a spending bill had yet been reached to avert the crisis.
The impasse is centered on Trump’s demand for $5 billion toward a U.S.-Mexico border wall.
Senate advances House bill
Earlier Friday, the Senate had voted to advance a House-passed bill that included that amount for the wall. The procedural vote gave the Senate “flexibility” to continue negotiating, McConnell said.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told The Washington Post that Democrats were open to discussions but would not agree to any new funding for a border wall.
On Thursday, the Republican-led House of Representatives passed a temporary spending bill that included billions for Trump’s proposed wall along the southern U.S. border.
After previously saying he would “proudly” accept responsibility for a partial U.S. government shutdown if Congress does not pass legislation that includes funding for his proposed border wall, Trump early Friday tweeted, “The Democrats now own the shutdown!”
Friday afternoon he tweeted that the shutdown would last a long time.
Later Friday at the White House, Trump doubled down on his 11th-hour effort to blame the impending shutdown on Democratic lawmakers.
Trump summons senators
In an attempt to bolster the slim chances of the measure’s passage in the Senate, Trump summoned Senate Republicans to the White House Friday morning to discuss the bill and border security.
Trump repeatedly has demanded funds to build the wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, and he told House Republican leaders before Thursday’s vote he would not sign a bill approved by the Senate, which did not include funding for the wall.
Schumer told colleagues Friday on the Senate floor that Trump is making unilateral decisions that are creating chaos throughout the world.
“All of this turmoil is causing chaos in the markets, chaos abroad and it’s making the United States less prosperous and less secure,” Schumer said. “There are not the votes in the Senate for an expensive taxpayer-funded border wall. So President Trump you will not get your wall. Abandon your shutdown strategy. You’re not getting your wall today, next week or on January 3rd when Democrats take control of the House.”
McConnell argued for the wall’s funding, saying, “The need for greater security on our southern border is not some partisan invention. It’s an empirical fact and the need is only growing.”
Shutdown before Christmas
Trump also called key Republican lawmakers to the White House Thursday for talks about the wall and the bill needed to keep about a quarter of government operations from shutting down when funding expires at midnight Friday, just ahead of the Christmas holiday next week.
Trump has voiced increasing frustration that Congress has refused his request for a $5 billion down payment on the $20 billion wall he says will thwart illegal immigration. Construction of the wall was a popular rallying cry at Trump campaign events during his successful 2016 run for the White House. Trump also told his supporters that Mexico would pay for the wall.
The dispute is occurring in the last days of Republican control of both houses of Congress.
Democrats, adamantly opposed to Trump’s wall proposal, picked up 40 seats in the 435-member House of Representatives in the November elections and are set assume control in early January, although Republicans will maintain their edge in the Senate.