Posted on: Deutsche Welle | December 23rd, 2018

US lawmakers failed to agree on a spending bill on Friday before the Senate and House of Representatives adjourned for the evening, leading to a partial government shutdown.

Funding for dozens of federal agencies ceased on Saturday. It is unclear how long the shutdown will last. However, the shutdown means hundreds of thousands of public servants will be forced to take unpaid leave or to work without pay in the run-up to Christmas. They will receive pay for their work when a new spending bill is eventually passed.

Lawmakers in the House of Representatives and the Senate, both of which are controlled by the Republican Party, were unable to agree on a spending bill that would have enough support in both chambers of the US Congress.

Democratic senators, whose support Republicans would need to pass a bill in the Senate, refused to vote in favor for a requested $5 billion (€4.4 billion) for US President Donald Trump’s proposed Mexican border wall.

Trump said he was «totally prepared for a very long shutdown» as he blamed Democrats for stonewalling the House measure, which provides funding for a border wall.

In a video message on Twitter, Trump blamed Democrats for the shutdown, saying «there’s nothing we can do about that because we need the Democrats to give us their votes.»  Trump added, «The shutdown hopefully will not last long.»

The White House budget chief had instructed agencies «to execute plans for an orderly shutdown.»

Shutdown blame game

Talks on how to fund the US government will continue on Saturday afternoon.

Earlier this month Trump said in a heated exchange with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer at the White House that he would be «proud” and «own» a government shutdown.

Schumer pointed out Friday that Trump had admitted he would be responsible for the shutdown.

«You’re not getting the wall today, next week or on January third when Democrats take control of the House,» he said.

Limited shutdown

A federal shutdown will impact about 800,000 of 2.1 million federal workers.

Around 380,000 workers would be put on unpaid leave. About 420,000 federal employees, including law enforcement and border protection, would continue to work but wouldn’t be paid until a spending bill passes.

Departments that would be impacted include Homeland Security, Transport, Commerce, State, Agriculture, Interior, Treasury, and Housing and Urban Development.

A number of agencies, including the Defense Department, Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Health and Human Services would not shut down because they have been funded through the fiscal year, which ends in September 2019.

This is the third government shutdown so far in 2018.

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