US govt in shutdown after failure to pass funding Bill

A sign near the ferry dock to the Statue of Liberty at Battery Park in Manhattan announcing the closure of the New York attraction as the government went into shutdown yesterday. Lawmakers were unable to pass a Continuing Resolution in time to avert
A sign near the ferry dock to the Statue of Liberty at Battery Park in Manhattan announcing the closure of the New York attraction as the government went into shutdown yesterday. Lawmakers were unable to pass a Continuing Resolution in time to avert the shutdown.PHOTO: REUTERS
A sign near the ferry dock to the Statue of Liberty at Battery Park in Manhattan announcing the closure of the New York attraction as the government went into shutdown yesterday. Lawmakers were unable to pass a Continuing Resolution in time to avert
MR CHUCK SCHUMER, Democratic Senate minority leader.

Republicans, Democrats blame each other; 850,000 federal workers to be put on furlough

WASHINGTON • US President Donald Trump marked the first anniversary of his inauguration yesterday with his government in shutdown, accusing Democrats of taking Americans hostage with their demands and putting immigrants ahead of the nation's military.

As the clock struck midnight, in the absence of an agreed spending plan, federal services began to come to a halt or be scaled back.

Essential services and military activity would continue, but many public-sector workers would be sent home without wages.

The shutdown was cemented when the Senate, meeting late into Friday night, blocked a Bill to maintain the federal government's funding through Feb 16.

"Democrats are far more concerned with Illegal Immigrants than they are with our great Military or Safety at our dangerous Southern Border," Mr Trump wrote in an early morning tweet. "They could have easily made a deal but decided to play Shutdown politics instead."

A deal had appeared likely on Friday afternoon, when Mr Trump seemed close to an agreement with Democratic Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer on a measure to prevent the expulsion of thousands of undocumented migrants who arrived in the country as children.

But no such compromise was in the language that reached Congress for a stopgap motion to keep the government open for four more weeks while a final arrangement is discussed - and Republicans failed to win enough Democratic support to bring it to a vote.

  • What's affected, what's not

  • WASHINGTON • Until a funding deal is worked out, many federal agencies across the United States will no longer be open for business. But vital services and military operations will continue.

    Here is a rundown of what is and isn't affected by the shutdown.

    DEFENCE, SECURITY AND TRAVEL 

    All 1.3 million military personnel on active duty will remain on normal duty status. But civilian personnel in non-essential operations will be furloughed.

    Officials at the Customs and Border Protection, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and US Citizenship and Immigration Services will remain on the job checking and processing people entering the country by land, sea and air.

    The Federal Aviation Administration, which oversees air traffic control, will remain at work, and airports will remain open for travellers.

    KEY GOVT OPERATIONS 

    The White House, Congress and federal courts will continue to operate. The US Postal Service will still deliver the mail.

    PARKS AND MUSEUMS 

    According to tentative plans, national parks and museums will remain open, but some public employees at the parks could be furloughed.

    HEALTH 

    More than half the staff at the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention will be furloughed. Much of the research-focused National Institutes of Health will be shuttered.

    OTHER PUBLIC SERVICES 

    Other agencies will largely shut down, affecting things such as the processing of documents and permits as well as contracted projects. They include the Internal Revenue Service, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Education Department, Commerce Department, Labour Department and the Environmental Protection Agency. 

    AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS, NYTIMES

BALL IN THE OTHER COURT

Every American knows the Republican Party controls White House, the Senate, the House - it is their job to keep the government open.

MR CHUCK SCHUMER, Democratic Senate minority leader.

Mr Trump's spokesman Sarah Sanders declared that he would never negotiate an immigration deal until Congress agrees to resume normal government spending. "Senate Democrats own the Schumer Shutdown," she declared. "We will not negotiate the status of unlawful immigrants while Democrats hold our lawful citizens hostage over their reckless demands," she said.

Republican majority leader Mitch McConnell echoed the White House's language.

But Mr Schumer said his party took significant steps to reach a deal, including raising the possibility of funding for Mr Trump's proposed wall along the US border with Mexico, which it has opposed.

"Every American knows the Republican Party controls White House, the Senate, the House - it is their job to keep the government open. It is their job to work with us to move forward," Mr Schumer told the Senate, after the 50 to 49 vote.

Republicans have a tenuous one-seat majority in the Senate but would have had to lure some Democrats to their side to get a 60-vote supermajority in the 100-member chamber for the motion.

The President shelved plans to fly to Florida to celebrate at his Mar-a-Lago estate the first anniversary of his inauguration.

Roughly 850,000 federal government workers across several agencies will be placed on furlough - leave of absence - from tomorrow, which means they could lose their pay for the days they cannot work.

The Senate was set to reconvene at noon yesterday, with Mr McConnell seeking a new stopgap measure to fund the government till Feb 8.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on January 21, 2018, with the headline 'US govt in shutdown after failure to pass funding Bill'. Print Edition | Subscribe