17:06 GMT +321 November 2019
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    U.S. Capitol is seen shortly after beginning of the Government shutdown in Washington, U.S., January 20, 2018

    US Gov't Shuts Down, White House Blames Dems Calling Them 'Losers'

    © REUTERS / Yuri Gripas
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    MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The US government went into shutdown mode on Saturday after senators failed to pass a stopgap motion before the midnight deadline that would have extended funding through February 16.

    Funding has ceased for many federal agencies, forcing hundreds of thousands of staffers to take a leave of absence. National parks and monuments will also be closed to the public, but essential services will reportedly be allowed to run.

    The White House has been quick to blame the Democratic Party for the shutdown, slamming them as "obstructionist losers, not legislators."

    "We will not negotiate the status of unlawful immigrants while Democrats hold our lawful citizens hostage over their reckless demands," the press secretary said in a statement after the funding legislation failed to get the 60 votes needed to avoid shutdown.

    Commenting on the prospects of negotiations with the Democratic party, the White House stated that the talks on the immigration reform would start "when Democrats start paying our armed forces and first responders."

    In its turn, the Democratic party has responded, with US Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer saying that he had offered to "put the Border Wall on the table" during the discussion with Trump, but that was not enough for the president to make a deal.

    According to him, the outline of the deal was close to agreement on immigration and spending caps but Trump "didn't press his party in Congress to accept it."

    "And the blame should crash entirely on President Trump's shoulders. This will be called the Trump shutdown… because there is no one, no one, who deserves the blame for the position we find ourselves in more than President Trump," Schumer said, calling for resuming the negotiations later on Saturday.

    Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the shutdown had been "100-percent avoidable" but was filibustered by Democrats over a "completely unrelated" measure on illegal immigration, which sought to shield immigrant children from deportation, adding, however, that the GOP was ready to talk to Democrats about solving the funding impasse.

    Senators took a procedural vote on the proposal to limit debate in order to squeeze the House-passed bill through the Republican-controlled Congress less than two hours before midnight.

    READ MORE: US Senate Votes Against Bill That Could Help Avoid Government Shutdown

    The deadline to unlock short-term funding expired on Friday midnight. A last-ditch effort to squeeze the spending bill through Congress was blocked after the Senate voted 50-49 for limiting the debate, which fell 10 votes short of the goal.

    Prior to the vote, Trump tweeted, "Not looking good" and accused Democrats who, according to him, wanted the shutdown "to help diminish the success" of the GOP-drafted tax bill.

    In their turn, Democrats wanted to reach a deal on the Obama-era DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program in order to protect so-called "dreamers," migrants, who have been brought to the US as children.

    The short-term spending bill was set to keep US government open through February 16, while prolonging the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for six years. However, it didn't not contain a solution for undocumented immigrants brought to the US as small children.

    Senior administration officials said earlier that more than one million US military personnel would continue to serve without pay. US President Donald Trump will also be able to travel for diplomatic purposes and federal IT security services would remain open.

    The government of then President Barack Obama was last shut for more than two weeks in October 2013. The Office of Management and Budget estimated that roughly 850,000 employees were furloughed per day at the peak of the shutdown.


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