US Govt shuts down as Trump’s Club Puts Foot Down for Border Wall
Image Courtesy : Andrew Harnik/ AP
The US government began shutting down on Saturday, putting thousands of workers on unpaid leave, after the Senate failed to pass a stopgap budget.
Democrats wanted the funding bill to include protections for hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants known as "Dreamers" who arrived in the United States as children with their parents.
The funding bill reached a roadblock as Republicans, following the US President Donald Trump’s position ‘first pay for my border wall’, refused to agree to keep the ‘Dreamers’ program alive until there is funding for tough new border controls.
The shutdown marked the first anniversary of President Donald Trump's inauguration, media reports said.
It is the first shutdown in US history to happen while the same party controls both chambers of Congress and the White House, the BBC reported.
Despite the last minute bipartisan meetings, the bill to fund the government until February 16, did not receive the required 60 votes.
The budget proposal presented by the Republicans on Friday night got more votes in favour (50) than against (48), but they were insufficient to approve funds. Four Republicans voted against the bill while five Democrats broke rank to support it.
Earlier on Thursday night, the House of Representatives voted 230-197 for extending the funding until February. The rejection of the funding bill by the Senate meant many government services would close down until the budget was agreed upon.
The last US shutdown was in 2013 during the Barrack Obama administration. It lasted for 16 days when many federal employees were forced to take leave of absence.
On Saturday, Trump wrote on Twitter: "Not looking good for our great Military or Safety and Security on the very dangerous Southern Border. Dems want a Shutdown in order to help diminish the great success of the Tax Cuts, and what they are doing for our booming economy."
Experts argue that Republicans are trying to put the blame on Democrats for what they themselves had been doing, referring to the 2013 US government shutdown to stall Planned Parenthood and Obamacare.
“Like some political goldfish swimming in a bowl of amnesia, Republicans have forgotten they picked up seats in the mid-term elections following their own 2013 shutdown,” said Richard L. Wolffe, a British-American journalist.
“In fact, they picked up control of the Senate, and with it, blocked everything Obama wanted to do, including his nomination of a supreme court justice.”
According to a report in The Guardian, federal law requires agencies to shut down if Congress has not appropriated money to fund them.
In previous shutdowns, services deemed "essential", such as the work of the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI, have continued.
(with inputs from IANS)
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