U US

US government experiences partial shutdown over border wall

Following a series of tense negotiations between President Trump and Congressional Democrats over funding for the border wall, the US government is under partial shutdown until a budget deal can be made. 

The shutdown affects about a quarter of the federal government, taking away pay for around 800,000 government workers. Based on the decision by Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell to adjourn for the holidays, the earliest the government could reopen is Thursday, 27 Dec.

President Trump has asked for $5 billion in funding from Congress to build a wall on the southern border, something he structured much of his presidential campaign around, and has so far been unwilling to budge on the issue. This is the third time this year that the government has experienced a shutdown, something that has not happened with this much frequency in 40 years. Previously, from 20-22 of January, a bill in the Senate failed to pass, as Democrats wanted it to address Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), and so the government shut down for three days. Then on 8 February, a budget deal still did not address DACA, which caused the Senate to delay passing it until they could agree to a deal a day later.   

A bill which had included the $5 billion Trump asked for has passed the House 217-185, but due to the filibuster in the Senate, requiring 60 votes in the Senate, which would have needed Democrat support to reach, the bill was not passed on for Trump to sign. Trump in a tweet urged the Senate majority leader to remove the filibuster in the Senate in order to pass the bill, which McConnell, along with several other Senate Republicans, refused to do. A filibuster is where one or more members debate over a proposed piece of legislation for so long as to delay or entirely prevent a decision being made on the proposal.

It is unclear who exactly is taking the blame for the government shutdown, as Trump has said that he would be proud to take credit for the shutdown saying "I will take the mantle. I will be the one to shut it down," but then later said the opposite, that it would be the Democrats fault if the government shutdown. 

In response to the shutdown, Trump has cancelled his planned holiday trip to his Florida getaway, Mar-a-Lago, in order to stay in Washington to deal with the partial shutdown. However, while White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement "Due to the shutdown, President Trump will remain in Washington, D.C. and the first lady will return from Florida so they can spend Christmas together," it is unclear how long Trump will stay in Washington. Depending upon the length of the shutdown, it is possible he may end up going down to Florida to spend Christmas time away from D.C.