Shutdown leaves hundreds of thousands of federal workers in limbo for Christmas

The government was sent into a partial shutdown Friday night as both houses of Congress adjourned for the evening after a last-ditch effort to continue talks in the Senate failed.

Both the Senate and House adjourned until Saturday, with House members going home at 7 p.m. and senators dismissed an hour later, causing the midnight deadline for averting the shutdown to pass.

The standstill left the paychecks of hundreds of thousands of federal workers in limbo at Christmastime.

“Regrettably, America has now entered a Trump Shutdown,” read a joint statement from House Speaker-designate Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer.

“Democrats have offered Republicans multiple proposals to keep the government open, including one that already passed the Senate unanimously, and all of which include funding for strong, sensible, and effective border security — not the president’s ineffective and expensive wall.”

Republican National Committee, however, blamed Democrats for not passing $5 billion for President Trump’s wall on the US-Mexico border.

“Tonight, Democrats chose to shut down the government instead of working with Republicans and President Trump to secure our border,” RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said.

“Chuck Schumer and his colleagues must stop putting partisan politics over the security of our nation and fulfill their responsibility to fund our government, keep our communities safe, and uphold the rule of law.”

The shutdown capped a tense day on Capitol Hill, where it took a tie-breaking vote by Vice President Mike Pence in the Senate to keep alive a bill that would provide the billions of dollars in funding for the border wall.

But Senate leaders said they would vote only on legislation backed by Republicans, Democrats and Trump — an unlikely prospect given days of increasingly heated rhetoric.

Democrats held firm to their refusal to give Trump the funding he wants for the wall.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he hoped Democrats would negotiate with Team Trump and stressed the next vote would be on a bill all parties agreed on.

“I hope Senate Democrats will work with the White House on an agreement that can pass both houses of Congress and receive the president’s signature,” he said. “So, colleagues, when an agreement is reached, it will receive a vote here on the Senate floor.”

The move came after about a dozen senators had left town for the Christmas holiday, believing a budget extension until Feb. 8 was all but signed.

The agreement to continue discussions into the weekend came after Pence, Trump adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner and acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney huddled with Schumer behind closed doors.

Trump warned earlier Friday that Americans should prepare for “a very long shutdown.”

He also did a 180 on his claim that he would be “proud to shut down the government” and would not blame Democrats — doing just that at the White House while signing the criminal-justice reform bill.

“It’s up to the Democrats. It’s really, the Democrat shutdown. I hope we don’t, but we’re very well prepared for a very long shutdown,” Trump said.
Days earlier, Trump sang a different tune.

“I am proud to shut down the government for border security. I will take the mantle. I will be the one to shut it down. I’m not going to blame you. I’m going to shut it down for border security,” he told Schumer and Pelosi in a White House meeting on Dec. 11.

Senate Republicans need at least nine Democrats to jump the fence to get the 60 votes needed to pass the spending extension that included the wall funding approved by the House.

A senior Senate Republican aide said there was hope that the two parties could find a “sweet spot” in a temporary spending bill that would provide more funds for border security than was in the bill the Senate passed this week — but not the $5 billion for a wall that the House approved.

With Post Wires

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