Senate fails to reach budget accord, partial US govt shutdown to continue

Washington: The US Senate on Thursday failed to reach an agreement to fully reopen the federal government, about 25 per cent of which has been shut down due to lack of funding for six days, and it reported that its members will not meet again until January 2.

The only senator to come in to the Senate on Thursday, Pat Roberts, said that the upper house will suspend its activities until December 31, when there will be a pro forma session. Senators will meet again on January 2 at 4 pm to continue their negotiations to try and find a way to fully reopen the government.

In a speech lasting less than three minutes, Roberts, a Republican representing Kansas, said that the discussions are continuing among his colleagues on how to overcome the current impasse, but he provided no details about a potential accord, Efe reported.

The shutdown of the government affects only about 25 percent of federal employees, although other important government functions — like Pentagon operations — have been funded through September 2019.

Nevertheless, the paralysis affects agencies within 10 government departments, including Transportation and Justice, as well as dozens of national parks, which are usually a huge tourist draw over the Christmas holidays and throughout the year.

Some 800,000 of the 2.1 million federal employees are idled, or furloughed, at present and they will not receive paychecks as long as their departments are without funding.

The government could remain partially shut down until Democrats are slated to retake control of the House of Representatives in late January, when they could approve financing for the administration albeit without allocating funding for President Donald Trump’s much-touted wall along the border with Mexico, something that he is demanding.

On the day that the government partially shut down due to lack of funding, Trump said that it could be a “long” shutdown if Senate Democrats don’t approve the $5 billion he wants to build portions of the border wall, although the current Republican-controlled House has already approved those funds.

This is the third government shutdown since Trump came into office in early 2017. The first occurred in January 2018 and lasted three days and the second came in February and lasted only a few hours.