US govt shuts down; Trump blames Democrats

Washington: The US government officially shutdown today for the first time in five years after the Senate rejected a short-term spending bill to keep the federal government running, marking a chaotic end to Donald Trump’s first year as president.

Military will still go to work, the border will still be patrolled, fire folks will be fighting the fires and the parks will be open. But in each of these cases people will not be paid, Director of Office of Management of Budget Mick Mulvaney said.

The shutdown began at 12:01 am (local time) after a few Republicans joined Democrats in blocking the crucial measure would have provided short-term funding for the Pentagon and other federal agencies.

Trump blamed the Democrats for the shutdown which comes exactly a year after he was sworn in as the 45th President of the United States.

“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,” he said.

“This is the one year anniversary of my presidency and the Democrats wanted to give me a nice present,” Trump said.

“DemocratShutdown. Democrats are holding our military hostage over their desire to have unchecked illegal immigration. Can’t let that happen!” Trump said in another tweet indicating that he has toughened his position against the Opposition Democratic party.

“For those asking, the Republicans only have 51 votes in the Senate, and they need 60. That is why we need to win more Republicans in 2018 election! We can then be even tougher on crime (and border), and even better to our military and veterans!” Trump said.

Despite last minute bipartisan meetings, the bill to fund the government until February 16 did not receive the required 60 votes. The Senate voted 50-48 to block the stopgap funding measure.

While the Republcian party enjoys a majority of 51 votes in the 100-member Senate, a procedural issue that requires 60 votes for legislations to move forward prevented the shirt- term spending bill pass through the Senate.

The short-term spending bill was passed by the House on Thursday.

This is part of the Democrats strategy to force President Trump and the Republicans to negotiate with them on illegal immigrants who are facing deportation.

The effect of the shutdown would be felt most from Monday when the federal government employees would not be able to join for their work and be forced to stay at home without pay.

It is estimated that more than 800,000 federal employees would be furloughed. Only the essential services would be open. The last time that a government shutdown happened was in 2013.

The White House said it has taken measures so that there is less impact of the government shutdown, but hundreds and thousands of federal government employees are now forced to stay at home till the time the Congress passes the short-term spending bill.

US Vice President Mike Pence, who is on a trip to the Middle East, said that his administration worked in good faith to put a bipartisan deal on the table that would strengthen our borders, end chain migration, eliminate the visa lottery, and deal compassionately with DACA.

But the Democrats blamed Trump for the shutdown.

“Tonight, on the eve of the first anniversary of his inauguration, President Trump earned an ‘F’ for failure in leadership,” said Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi.

“President Trump and Congressional Republicans’ obsession with passing a tax scam to benefit the wealthiest and corporations has blinded them to their responsibilities to the American people.

In a memorandum to the Department of Defence, Defence Secretary Jim Mattis reassured the nation of taking all necessary steps to protect the nation during the time of government shutdown.

The White House said that the military will be working without pay.

“We will continue to execute daily operations around the world – ships and submarines will remain at sea, our aircraft will continue to fly and our warfighters will continue to pursue terrorists throughout the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia.

Mulvaney said that Fanny and Freddy will be open, the post office will be open, the TSA will be open, but again all of these people will be working for nothing, which is simply not fair, he said.

The last government shutdown lasted for 16 days in October 2013. The previous shutdown before that was for 21 days that ended on 6 January, 1996.

However, this is for the first time in recent history that a shutdown has taken place when both the House and the Senate and the White House is controlled by the same party.

Trump has cancelled his scheduled weekend trip to Mar-a- Lago in Florida. However, he would continue with his trip to Davos to attend the World Economic Forum meeting next week.

“Democrats can’t shut down the booming Trump economy. Are they now so desperate they’ll shut down the government instead?” said White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders and described it as a “Schumer shutdown”.

Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer is the Senate Minority Leader.

PTI

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