Capitol-Hill

US Govt Shutdown Begins as Senate Fails to Pass New Budget

The US government has shut down for the first time since 2013 after Congress failed to resolve a partisan standoff over immigration and spending.

In a late-night vote, Senate Democrats blocked a bill that would have kept the government running for another four weeks.

A flurry of last-minute negotiations failed to beat the deadline.

Democrats have tried to use the Friday night funding deadline to win concessions from Republicans, including an extension of an Obama-era program protecting some young immigrants from deportation.

The program is set to expire in March. Republicans sought more time for talks, but Democrats refused.

The shutdown is only the fourth government closure in 25 years. It will only partially curb government operations. Uniformed service members, health inspectors, and law enforcement officers are set to work without pay.

After hours of closed-door meetings and phone calls, the Senate scheduled its late-night vote on a House-passed plan.

It gained 50 votes to proceed to 49 against, but 60 were needed to break a Democratic filibuster. A handful of red-state Democrats crossed the aisle to support the measure, rather than take a politically risky vote. Four Republicans voted in opposition.

In an unusual move, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell allowed the roll call to exceed 90 minutes – instead of the usual 20 or so – and run past midnight, seemingly accommodating the numerous discussions among leaders and other lawmakers.

Still as midnight passed and the calendar turned, there was no obvious off-ramp to the political stalemate.

Even before the vote, Mr Trump was pessimistic, tweeting that Democrats actually wanted the shutdown “to help diminish the success” of the tax bill he and fellow Republicans pushed through last month.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders later termed the Democrats “obstructionist losers” in a tweet sent from the White House’s official account.

Since the closure began at the start of a weekend, many of the immediate effects will be muted for most Americans.

But any damage could build quickly if the closure is prolonged.

 

 

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