Monday 16 September 2019

US government set for closure in border wall row

Defence secretary Jim Mattis and President Trump.
Defence secretary Jim Mattis and President Trump.

Nick Allen

The US House of Representatives last night adjourned without a deal on spending, virtually guaranteeing a partial government shutdown.

President Donald Trump's team was on Capitol Hill late last night, trying to broker a compromise as he pushed for billions of dollars in border wall funding.

Without a deal, funding for parts of the US government was due to expire at midnight.

President Donald Trump admitted that there was a "very good" chance the US government would shut down after he failed to get Democrats to agree $5bn in funding for his proposed border wall.

Republicans and Democrats in Congress made last minute efforts to avoid the Christmas shutdown but appeared poles apart from agreeing a new spending bill.

Without an agreed bill, funding for large swathes of the government was due to run out, leaving 800,000 public workers without pay over Christmas.

The shutdown would mean the closure of national parks, the Internal Revenue Service, and 95pc of Nasa's operations.

However, special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation would be among the government-funded projects not affected.

Mr Trump had initially agreed to a spending bill that did not include funding for the wall, but was targeted by a severe backlash from some of his own most prominent supporters.

The president then decided he would not sign a spending bill without money for the wall.

Chuck Schumer, the Democrat leader in the Senate, speaking on the Senate floor, said: "Mr President, you will not get your wall. President Trump, you own the shutdown."

Mr Trump, in the Oval Office, said: "It's up to the Democrats as to whether or not we have a shutdown tonight. I hope we don't, but we're totally prepared for a very long shutdown"

Mr Trump had called on Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the Senate, to use the "nuclear option" requiring only a simple majority of 51, rather than a "supermajority" of 60 votes, to pass the spending bill. However, Mr McConnell said there was not enough support among Republicans to introduce that option.

The uncertainty contributed to further losses on the US stock market yesterday.

Irish Independent

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