Government shuts down, budget talks ongoing
by Lynde Langdon
Posted 12/22/18, 08:59 am
Portions of the U.S. government shut down overnight Friday after lawmakers and the president failed to reach a budget deal. The House on Thursday approved a funding plan that met President Donald Trump’s demand of at least $5 billion for a border wall, but Senate Republicans don’t have the 60 votes required to pass the bill. Negotiations are underway Saturday morning in Washington, and both the House and Senate have called rare weekend sessions in hopes of approving a solution. In a memo to agency heads late Friday, White House budget director Mick Mulvaney said administration officials were “hopeful that this lapse in appropriations will be of short duration.”
The shutdown affects about 800,000 employees at nine of 15 Cabinet-level departments and dozens of agencies, including the departments of Agriculture, Homeland Security, Interior, Justice, State, and Transportation. Roughly 420,000 workers were deemed essential and will work without pay, while 380,000 will be furloughed. Essential workers are expected to receive back pay when the government reopens. Those being furloughed include nearly everyone at NASA and 52,000 workers at the Internal Revenue Service. About 8 in 10 employees of the National Park Service will stay home, and many parks were expected to close.
In a joint statement, Senate Minority Leader Church Schumer, D-N.Y., and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said the shutdown resulted from a “temper tantrum” by Trump. The president said Friday that “this is our only chance that we’ll ever have” to get the needed money for border security. Promises of building a wall and improving immigration enforcement were crucial elements of Trump’s campaign and continue to be high priorities for his conservative supporters. Democrats will take control of the House on Jan. 3, and they oppose major funding for wall construction.
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