US government shutdown set to last through Christmas

US government shutdown set to last through Christmas

US government shutdown set to last through Christmas

U.S. lawmakers headed home for Christmas leaving the government partially shut for a third day Monday in an impasse over President Donald Trump's demand for border wall funding, a standoff which the White House budget director said may continue until a new Congress takes over in January.

"It is very possible that the shutdown will go beyond the 28th and into the new Congress", Mulvaney said on "Fox News Sunday" as the shutdown began its second day.

The standoff between Trump and Senate Democrats led to the closure of about one-quarter of the USA federal government on midnight Friday, and with most of Congress out of town for the Christmas holiday, lawmakers say there is little prospect of ending the dispute until after the new year.

Mulvaney said Sunday morning that the White House had moved down from its demand for $5 billion and hoped Democrats would move up from their offer for $1.3 billion in border security funding. Trump would be willing to negotiate the type of barrier and restrictions on where construction could occur, the official said.

Only Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, among the most liberal lawmakers in Congress, refused to support the bill.

ASSOCIATED PRESS Border wall prototypes stand in San Diego near the Mexico US border, seen from Tijuana, Mexico.

Sen. Chuck Schumer, the minority leader, blamed the shutdown on a "remarkable two-week temper tantrum" by the president, who he said could reopen the government if he would "abandon the wall".

Trump has stopped talking about a concrete wall in recent weeks and focused on building a more fence-like steel structure.

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The closure, affecting hundreds of thousands of federal workers across the country, was expected to last at least through late this week after the House and Senate, which each met in a rare weekend session, adjourned until Thursday. The Saturday offer was $2.5 billion for border security, including new fencing and $400 million for Trump immigration priorities, according to a Democratic aide. Another 380,000 will be "furloughed", meaning they are put on temporary leave.

The shutdown went into effect after Trump threw a wrench into the works earlier in the week by refusing to agree to a short-term funding deal cut by Democratic and Republican senators because it did not include the funds for his border wall.

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About three-quarters of the government, including the military and the Department of Health and Human Services, is fully funded until the end of September next year, leaving 25 per cent unfunded as of Saturday.

Meanwhile, more than 380,000 employees will be furloughed - including almost all of Nasa and Housing and Urban Development and 41,000 Commerce Department employees. No Republican leaders or any Democrats, all needed for any deal, attended the meal.

Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill disputed that account, saying in a statement: "As Mr. Mulvaney well knows, House Democrats are united in their opposition to the President's immoral, expensive and ineffective wall".

Schumer has been an outspoken critic of the border wall and says he will not change his strategy due to the recent government shutdown. The Senate had already passed legislation ensuring that workers will receive back pay, and the House was likely to follow suit.

Mulvaney sent agency heads a memorandum telling them to "execute plans for an orderly shutdown" - though he wrote that administration officials are "hopeful that this lapse in appropriations will be of short duration".

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