The U.S. federal government was shut down Saturday after lawmakers failed to approve a spending bill amid a standoff over immigration reform and border security. Only workers deemed essential will continue to work.
Because the shutdown begins on a Saturday, the effects will be muted until Monday, when hundreds of thousands of federal employees are due to show up for work. Federal workers who are deemed essential, such as public safety and national security personnel, will keep working.
Lawmakers worked all through the day on Friday to find a compromise, but no deal was reached by the midnight deadline. A procedural vote to advance a bill that would have kept the government open through February 16 failed with nearly all Democrats voting against.
Negotiations were continuing on early Saturday morning in the hopes of reaching an agreement on a shorter stopgap spending bill. U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, offered just after midnight to vote on a bill that would keep the government running through February 8.
The office of U.S. House Majority Whip Steve Scalise told members just before 1 a.m. that the House will reconvene at 9 a.m. ET on Saturday. "Members are advised that we expect the House to be in session and voting on Saturday, January 20," the majority whip's office said in an email.
As the shutdown began, Democrats and Republicans both blamed each other.
McConnell blamed Democrats for holding the government hostage to force a deal on the status of 800,000 immigrants who were illegally brought to the United States as children. President Donald Trump announced last year that he will end a policy that shielded them from deportation.
But U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat who met with Trump on Friday afternoon, blamed the president for the government shutdown. Schumer said he had even offered to discuss Trump's demand for a wall on the Mexican border, but to no avail.
There was no immediate response from Trump, who earlier expressed support for a four-week stopgap spending bill to keep the government open. But in a statement just before midnight, the White House said the administration would refuse to negotiate immigration reform sought by Democrats.
"We will not negotiate the status of unlawful immigrants while Democrats hold our lawful citizens hostage over their reckless demands. This is the behavior of obstructionist losers, not legislators," White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said. "When Democrats start paying our armed forces and first responders we will reopen negotiations on immigration reform."
With a government shutdown now in effect, hundreds of thousands of nonessential government employees will be furloughed until lawmakers are able to reach a deal. Federal workers who are deemed essential, such as public safety and national security personnel, will keep working.
It is the fifth government shutdown since 1990. The last government shutdown happened in October 2013 and lasted more than 2 weeks, during which more than 800,000 federal workers were furloughed.
Published on January 19, 2018 - 10:33pm EST