US government shutdown enters third day as planned vote abandoned
Federal government closed down after funding bill failed to pass in the Senate
The US government shutdown is entering its third day as Republicans were forced to abandon a planned vote late on Sunday in the absence of sufficient support in the Senate.
Following a weekend of intense negotiations that appeared to yield little progress, the Senate will reconvene at noon today, in a bid to find a solution to the stand-off which has led to the closure of federal agencies and left some government workers without pay.
Senate majority leader Mitch Mc Connell had planned to hold a vote at 1 am on Monday but announced shortly after 9 pm that this would now be pushed forward to midday today when both houses of congress will convene.
With Republicans controlling just 52 seats in the 100-member Senate, they need Democratic support to reach the 60 votes needed to pass the bill.
The federal government officially shut down on Friday at midnight, after a short-term funding bill which would have funded the government for a month failed to gather enough votes to pass in the Senate.
With the working week beginning today, the impact of the shutdown is expected to be more widely felt.
Mick Mulvaney, the head of the Office of Management and Budget, said on Sunday that while some agencies would be closed, the impact would be contained.
“We’ll work to keep as many agencies open as we can,” he said, adding “effects won’t be as visible as they were in 2013...most Americans won’t see a difference.”
Democrats’ key concern is that protection for “dreamers” - young people who were brought illegally to the United States when they were children - should be included in the Bill.
One proposal under discussion by a bipartisan group of senators on Sunday was that a three-week funding bill could be agreed which would be accompanied by a separate debate and legislation potentially on immigration.
Both parties blamed each other throughout the weekend for the impasse. Mr McConnell accused Chuck Schumer, the top Democrat in the Senate, of shutting down the government to please a small portion of his base, and focusing on a “tangential issue related to illegal immigration.”
“We were poised to send him a compromise solution and erase the threat of a shutdown, but my friend across the aisle has shut down the government for hundreds of millions of Americans because you didn’t get everything you wanted in one meeting on Friday with the president,” he said.
He argued that issues relating to DACA - the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals scheme which gave protection to dreamers - should be dealt with separately than the funding bill.
“We now enter day two of the first real government shutdown ever to take place when one party controlled the presidency, the House and the Senate. Under this unified control, it was the Republican job to govern, it was their job to lead … they have failed. Our democracy was designed to run on compromise, the Senate was designed to run on compromise.”
He added: “Not only did they not consult us, they can’t get on the same page as their own president.”
President Trump was largely quiet on the issue over the weekend, though he suggested in a tweet on Sunday morning that Republicans should change Senate rules to allow the bill by a simple majority.
The shutdown has overshadowed Mr Trump’s first year anniversary as president. He had been due to attend a dinner at his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida, but was forced to cancel the weekend trip because of the shutdown.