USA government shutdown looms over border wall row

Hugh Fox
December 22, 2018

Donald Trump threatened "a shutdown that will last for a very long time" if he doesn't get money for his border wall Friday as the federal government braced for a partial shutdown that could begin at midnight.

As several federal agencies ceased operations, President Trump on Friday night continued to push for a wall on the border - and blamed Democrats for the standstill.

Meanwhile, future House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her Senate soulmate Chuck Schumer were declaring that Democrats in Congress will never vote to fund a border wall - or a fence, or a moat, or whatever Trump wants to call it.

The shutdown could persist at least until a new Congress convenes on January 3, and Democrats take control of the House from Republicans.

"We need border security and we cannot kick the can on disaster funding".

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Senators say they won't vote on a final bill to fund the government until Trump and congressional leaders all agree to a deal.

A partial U.S. government shutdown is now all but assured after USA lawmakers failed to break a budget impasse.

A senior Senate Republican aide said there was hope that Democrats and Republicans could find a "sweet spot" in a temporary spending bill that would provide more money for border security than was in the bill the Senate passed earlier this week - but not the US$5 billion for a wall that the House approved.

Despite the shutdown being a partial one, it will likely impact hundreds of thousands of federal employees.

Trump's sudden rejection of the Senate-approved legislation, after days of mixed messages, sent Republican leaders scrambling for options on Capitol Hill days before Christmas. In 2016, Hatch said that he was "one of the biggest advocates for the filibuster". He said the political fallout has always damaged "Republicans who said, 'By God, we'll show them.' It doesn't work that way, it just doesn't".

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Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn told reporters Friday evening that a $1.6 billion amount for border security "would make sense" as part of a deal. Policymakers are at ends over passing a spending bill that would keep nine cabinet agencies open after tonight's midnight deadline.

"Wheels down IAD ready to vote no on this stupid wall", he tweeted at dawn as his plane landed at Dulles International Airport outside Washington.

They were relieved earlier this week when Trump seemed to signal he'd sign a bill temporarily keeping government afloat without any wall money.

"The only path forward is to a bill that has an agreement between the president and both houses of Congress".

So far, the White House hasn't commented on the fundraising effort. House Republicans were confident the new bill would be passed. "The Senate's voice vote on the CR was strongly rejected by the conference this morning".

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Meanwhile, a United States military veteran's grassroots $1bn fundraiser to erect a border wall, and "help President Trump make America safe again", has raised over $12m.

As Joe Setyon wrote earlier today, the House of Representatives' version of the continuing resolution included $5 billion for the border wall. The House has adjourned without a deal on spending, virtually guaranteeing a partial government shutdown at midnight Friday. Just last week he said he would be "proud" to shut down the government over the wall.

Though government activities deemed vital, like the TSA, have historically remained functioning during shutdowns, other services - like those offered by the National Park Service, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health and the Environmental Protection Agency - have all had their capacities limited or temporarily halted in the past.

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