US government begins partial shutdown

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The US federal government has shut down following a stalemate between President Donald Trump and the Republican majority Congress. Federal employees will be sent home or obligated to work without pay as Congress & Mr. Trump reached an impasse over the President’s request for funding to build a border wall with Mexico.

The funding legislation was expected to pass both chambers earlier in the week. However, funding became uncertain the day before funding lapsed when Mr. Trump told Republican house members he would not support the bill unless it included the $US 5 billion funding for the border wall. The President had previously said he would be “proud” to enforce a shutdown over funding for the wall, however said that that the current event was a “Democrat shutdown” and that his government is “totally prepared for a very long shutdown.”

In response to the shutdown Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer stated “The Trump temper tantrum will shut down the government, but it will not get him his wall.” Democrats are set to take control of the House of Representatives on January 3 in 2019, and are expected to pass funding legislature to cease the shutdown. Schumer, in a joint statement with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said that “the new House Democratic majority will swiftly pass legislation to re-open government in January.”

In the absence of an agreement, funding for almost a quarter of US federal agencies ceased at midnight on Friday December 21, leaving around 380,000 government employees on temporary, unpaid leave. 420,000 working in work necessary for the “protection of life and property” will continue working without being paid, but are expected to receive back pay when federal funding is approved, as has occured with previous shutdowns.

The remaining 75% of the federal government is fully funded until September 2019 –  the defence, veterans affairs, labour and education departments are not affected by the current shutdown.

This is the third shutdown for 2018, and the 21st in Congress history

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