Political deadlock forces US government to shut down

RSTV Bureau
File photo of US President Donald Trump. PTI/AP

File photo of US President Donald Trump.
PTI/AP

In a chaotic close to Donald Trump’s first year as President, the US government officially shutdown on Friday for the first time in five years.

The US government shut down after the Republican leaders fell short of the 60 votes needed in the Senate to pass a spending bill to fund the government until 16 February.

The shutdown began after a few Republicans joined Democrats in blocking the crucial measure which would have provided short-term funding for the Pentagon and other federal agencies. The Senate voted 50-48 to block the stopgap funding measure which was passed by the House on Thursday.

US President Donald Trump blamed 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,” said the President.

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

Donald Trump’s office issued a statement blaming opposition Democrats for the crisis.

“We will not negotiate the status of unlawful immigrants while Democrats hold our lawful citizens hostage over their reckless demands. This is the behaviour of obstructionist losers, not legislators,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement.

The effect of the shutdown would be felt most from Monday when the federal government employees would not be able to join 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 US shutdown happened in 2013 and lasted for 16 days, during which many federal employees took a forced leave of absence.

(With inputs from agencies)