Trump vows 'very long' government shutdown in border wall standoff

Arturo Kim
December 22, 2018

Operations for several key agencies ceased at 12:01 am Saturday (5:01 GMT), despite last-ditch talks that continued on Capitol Hill between White House officials and congressional leaders in both parties.

"President Trump has thrown a temper tantrum and now has us careening towards a "Trump shutdown" over Christmas", Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said on the Senate floor.

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

Late Thursday night, Trump tweeted: "Thank you to our GREAT Republican Members of Congress for your VOTE to fund Border Security and the Wall".

More than 400,000 United States government employees will go without pay, 380,000 will be put on leave without pay as America faced a partial government shutdown midnight Friday just days before the Christmas holidays and all this is happening over another Donald Trump tantrum.

The popular narrative is that a "scared" and "vulnerable" Trump has been pushed to a corner and caved to the demands of wingnut hard-right commentators who said he must deliver on his bedrock promise of the 2016 campaign - the border wall - or shut down the government and wing it depending on whatever happens.

A shutdown would force about 800,000 federal employees to stop working or continue at their posts without pay.

Trump's sudden rejection of the Senate-approved legislation, after days of mixed messages, sent Republican leaders scrambling for options days before Christmas.

Three-quarters of government programs are fully funded through next September 30, including those in the Defense Department, Labor Department and Health and Human Services. "Now it's up to the Democrats as to whether we have a shutdown tonight".

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"All of this turmoil is causing chaos in the markets, chaos overseas and it's making the United States less prosperous and less secure", Schumer said.

A partial government shutdown would see staff at affected agencies limited to those deemed "essential" to public safety.

By Friday morning at around 11:30 a.m. ET, a GoFundMe page titled "We The People Will Fund The Wall" passed $11 million from almost 200,000 donors.

The government will shut down at midnight Friday if lawmakers can not put a bill on the president's desk that he is willing to sign.

So far, the White House hasn't commented on the fundraising effort.

The bill is considered dead on arrival in the Senate, where the margin of Republicans to Democrats is now 51-49. To kill time, the Senate kept a procedural roll call vote open for more than four hours. The House has adjourned without a deal on spending, virtually guaranteeing a partial government shutdown at midnight Friday.

He convened Republican senators for a morning meeting, but the lengthy back-and-forth did not appear to set a strategy for moving forward.

After a rare backlash from his supporters and hard-line Republicans, Mr Trump has now dug his heels in over the issue and is insisting $5.7bn (£4.5bn) of funds must be included for him to sign it off.

The White House had signaled support but, after fierce criticism from conservative pundits, Mr. Trump upended those plans and said he wouldn't sign the bill because it didn't include money he's demanded for more border fencing. He called it "the best we can to keep from shutting down government - or if it does shut down, shutting down very briefly". The other 25%, however, includes some very important agencies, including: Homeland Security, Commerce, Interior, Agriculture, Housing and Urban Development, Justice, and Transportation. About 8 in 10 employees of the National Park Service will stay home and many parks were expected to close.

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