US government shutdown looms over border wall row


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A partial US government shutdown is now all but assured after US lawmakers failed to break a budget impasse.

Mr Trump, who has to sign off any deal, is insisting $5.7bn (£4.5bn) in government funding be included to help build his long-promised US border wall.

Despite last-minute talks, lawmakers began to adjourn on Friday evening.

Without a new agreement in place, funding for about a quarter of all US federal agencies will lapse at 00:00 local time (05:00 GMT Saturday).

It means the departments of Homeland Security, Transportation, Agriculture, State, and Justice will begin to shutdown and federal national parks and forests will also close.

The partial shutdown, the third of 2018, will impact hundreds of thousands of workers.

What is the row about?

On Wednesday, a stopgap spending bill was passed in order to keep federal agencies open until 8 February – but the agreement did not include funding for Mr Trump’s wall.

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.

Under current rules, spending bills are approved in the House of Representatives with a simple majority vote. Mr Trump’s party currently dominate that chamber, but the Democrats are set to take control of it in January.

The House has now approved the levels of funding Mr Trump has asked for, but before it reaches the president it also needs to be passed by 60 votes in the Senate – where Republicans only hold 51 seats.

As tension escalated over the issue on Friday, the president vowed a “very long” government shutdown if Democrats continued to resist support.

He also shared a graphic of his steel-slat wall design for the wall.

A renewed southern border wall was a key election promise for Mr Trump.

During his campaign he insisted he would make Mexico pay for it, but the country has refused.

The Democrats have also remained resolute that US taxpayers should not pay for it.

This week Mr Trump’s supporters created a GoFundMe for the building process – an appeal that has so far raised more than $13m (£10m) in just four days.

What will happen now?

After last-minute talks failed to reach a resolution on Friday night, members of Congress began going home and are expected to return to Capitol Hill on Saturday.

In order to break the impasse, Mr Trump has urged Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell invoke the so-called “nuclear option” whereby policy can be approved in the Senate with a simple majority instead of the 60 currently required – bypassing the need for bipartisan support.

But Mr McConnell has repeatedly refused in the past to invoke such an extreme legislative manoeuvre.

A number of Republican senators on Friday also made clear their staunch opposition to the proposal.

The midnight closure will be the third time US federal funding has lapsed so far in 2018.


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