Shutdown to continue for days as US Senate adjourns with no deal

Geraldine Edwards
December 24, 2018

In Arizona, the Grand Canyon was remaining open with state funding, the governor said.

"The shutdown will hopefully not last long", he said.

Federal parks were to close and more than 400,000 federal "essential" employees in those agencies will work without pay until the dispute is resolved.

An estimated 800,000 federal employees may be impacted by the partial shutdown, either by having to work during it while their pay is withheld until it ends or by being furloughed.

Friday morning, Trump had an opportunity to savor an fantastic victory with Democrats and Republicans by his side as he held a signing ceremony for the First Step Act, which passed by an 87-12 vote in the Senate.

No one knew how long the closures would last. But they did not rule out action if a deal were struck.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has ended the rare Saturday session hours after the Senate had opened.

On Saturday, Senate Appropriations Committee Member Sen.

Republican Senator Richard Shelby, who attended the White House meeting with Trump, said it was unlikely a stopgap funding measure was imminent, but said that Trump "wants to end the shutdown".

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On Saturday he used Twitter to say he was "working hard", and to repeatedly claim the Democrats were to blame for a shutdown he said last week he wanted if his demands on border security were not met. First lady Melania Trump was flying back to Washington to be with her husband.

A senior Trump administration official told reporters on a conference call that Democrats must accept physical barriers on the border as part of any deal.

The president's strategy to shut down the government for the sake of a border wall only days before the Democrats assume majority control of the House is foolish and wrong.

Trump has gone back and forth on the shutdown. "Unfortunately, we're still very far apart", a spokesman for Schumer said. -Mexican border to combat illegal immigration and drug trafficking a key campaign promise in the 2016 election, when he said it would be paid for by Mexico.

Democrats continue to resist Trump's $5.7 billion "concrete wall". He has given mixed messages on whether he would sign any bill into law.

Earlier this year, Democrats were willing to support wall funding in return for protections for undocumented immigrants brought to America as children a deal Trump initially hailed but later abandoned.

Congress had refused the president's request for a down payment on the $20 billion wall the us leader says will thwart illegal immigration.

Democrats have said they are open to budget proposals that do not include the wall, which they say would be costly and ineffective.

One focus of last-minute discussions was $1.6 billion in border security support that was a part of pending Senate legislation, number two Senate Republican John Cornyn told AFP.

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The House on Thursday passed legislation that included Trump's request for $5 billion for a border wall, but it was clear on Friday that that demand did not have the votes needed to pass in the Senate, and was therefore not brought up for a vote - creating more uncertainty on a path forward.

Republican leaders largely stayed in the background of the negotiations. "Secondly, if you want to talk about border security, there are many things we can do".

The president is demanding $5 billion in funding for a wall along our border with Mexico, saying he will refuse to sign a government funding bill that doesn't include that money.

Any spending measure would need 60 votes to clear the Senate, and the Republicans now hold a slim 51-49 majority.

The Democratic leader, New York Senator Chuck Schumer, said the shutdown could end immediately if Trump simply dropped his demand for money that was the centre piece of his presidential campaign.

The gridlock blocks money for nine of 15 Cabinet-level departments and dozens of agencies, including the departments of Homeland Security, Transportation, Interior, Agriculture, State and Justice.

Those being furloughed included almost everyone at NASA and 52,000 workers at the Internal Revenue Service. The White House Visitor Centre and the National Archives - home to the US Constitution and other historic documents - were also closed.

The remaining 75% of the federal government is fully funded until September 2019 - so the defence, veterans affairs, labour and education departments are not affected.

Government employees who are considered "essential", such as Secret Service agents, Customs and Border Patrol agents and USA troops deployed at the border, will still be working.

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