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News > World

US Gov't Has Shut Down as Senate Democrats Block Funding Bill

  • U.S. House Democratic leaders arrive at a news conference with on opposition to government shutdown on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., Jan. 19, 2018.

    U.S. House Democratic leaders arrive at a news conference with on opposition to government shutdown on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., Jan. 19, 2018. | Photo: Reuters

Published 20 January 2018

In a late-night vote, Senate Democrats acted to block a bill that would have kept the government running for another four weeks.

The U.S. government has technically run out of money right after midnight on Friday night, on the first anniversary of President Donald Trump's inauguration, after lawmakers failed to reach a compromise in negotiations over spending and immigration.

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That would leave scores of federal agencies across the country unable to continue operating, and hundreds of thousands of "non-essential" federal workers would be put on temporary unpaid leave.

The White House issued a statement Early Saturday minutes after the shutdown blaming Senate Democrats for blocking a bill to avert a shutdown and said it would not negotiate on immigration, a key demand of Democrats.

"We will not negotiate the status of unlawful immigrants while Democrats hold our lawful citizens hostage over their reckless demands," the statement said after the funding legislation failed to get the 60 votes needed to overcome a procedural hurdle. This the foruth time the U.S. government has shut down over the past 25 years, with the last one being in 2013.

Democratic leaders demanded that the bill include protections for hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants known as "Dreamers" who arrived in the United States as children with their parents. Republicans refused and neither side has been willing to back down.

Trump last week rejected a bipartisan proposal, saying he wanted to include any deal for Dreamers in a bigger legislative package that also boosts funding for a border wall and tighter security at the U.S. border with Mexico.

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Leaders of both parties were holding last-minute intense talks as the midnight deadline loomed and the main contention was over whether to include protections from deportation for about 700,000 Dreamers, who are predominantly from Mexico and Central America and were given temporary legal status under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program started by former President Barack Obama.

Trump canceled the DACA program in September and gave Congress until March 5 to come up with a legislative replacement. In recent weeks Dreamers and pro-immigration activists have been holding protests and sit-ins in Washington to pressure U.S. Democrats on including the protections in the spending bill.

Just last week in a blow to Trump’s efforts against the Dreamers, a federal judge temporarily blocked Trump’s decision to end the DACA program and instructed the federal government to continue enforcing the program and process applications of those who want to stop their deportation until the lawsuits and legal challenges are resolved.

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