US shuts up shop over wall funds
The US government was partially shut down early yesterday in a fierce dispute over President Donald Trump’s demands that Congress assign $5 billion (about R34 billion) for a wall along the border with Mexico.
After failing to strike a budget deal on Friday, congressional leaders and the White House pledged to keep talking through the weekend in search of a deal to end the shutdown ahead of the Christmas holiday.
The impasse came after Trump threw a wrench into the works earlier in the week by refusing to agree to a short-term funding deal cut by Democratic and Republican senators because it did not include the $5 billion for his border wall.
The US House of Representatives, where Republicans have a majority until Democrats take over on January 3, then passed a bill that included the $5 billion, but it ran aground in the Senate and the shutdown began at midnight on Friday.
After it became clear the House bill lacked the votes to pass, Senate leaders huddled with Vice-President Mike Pence and other White House officials to try to figure out a path forward. They failed and legislators in both houses of Congress were sent home.
Trump tweeted: “We’re going to have a shutdown. There’s nothing we can do about that because we need the Democrats to give us their votes.”
For the shutdown to end, both the House and the Senate will have to approve any deal negotiated between Trump’s team and Republican and Democratic leaders.