Government shutdown looms as Democrats refuse to pass funding for Trump’s border wall

Vice President Mike Pence (R), acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney (C) and Jared Kushner (L) walk from the House of Representatives.

Vice President Mike Pence (R), acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney (C) and Jared Kushner (L) walk from the House of Representatives. Photo: AAP

A US government shutdown appears inevitable after the House of Representatives adjourned, leaving the Capitol before approving government funding to include Donald Trump’s $5 billion funding measure for his long-promised border wall.

Lawmakers were faced with a midnight deadline to come to terms with a spending bill which will extend funding for nine federal departments set to run out on Saturday (Friday local time).

However, the House of Representatives adjourned just before 7pm on Friday (11am on Saturday AEDT), leaving the Capitol before approving government funding and thereby ensuring a partial government shutdown.

This means the US government will partially shut down at midnight (4pm AEDT).

US Republican House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy informed lawmakers on Friday they will be given a 24-hour notice before a vote to end the shutdown, pushing a reopening of government until at least Saturday night.

The spending bill needed to include $5.7 billion ($8 billion) to begin construction on the border wall in Mexico – a measure Democrats have vowed to block.

The stopgap spending measure would extend funding for the government departments until February.

With Christmas just days away, the shutdown, which now appears to be inevitable, comes at a horrendous time for hundreds of thousands of government workers who face weeks without pay.

The legislation, passed in the House on Thursday, is expected to fail in the Senate where Democratic votes are needed.

With a likely shutdown just hours away, a furious President Trump on Friday used Twitter to slam Democrats vehemently opposed to funding the wall.

Some Senate Republicans are also opposed to the funding measure.

A bombastic Mr Trump warned the shutdown could last for “a very long time”.

“The Democrats, whose votes we need in the Senate, will probably vote against Border Security and the Wall even though they know it is DESPERATELY NEEDED,” he tweeted.

“If the Dems vote no, there will be a shutdown that will last for a very long time. People don’t want Open Borders and Crime!”

The government is at an impasse over funding for Mr Trump’s wall with negotiations over the past two years failing.

Democratic leaders have made clear they are unwilling to cave on supplying wall funding.

Earlier in the week, the Senate unanimously passed a spending bill which included money for border security but with a prohibition any funds be used for a wall.

Emboldened Democrats, set to regain control of the House in two weeks after winning the midterm elections, have little motivation to meet the president’s demands, slamming funding for the wall as wasteful.

Democratic leader Senator Chuck Schumer of New York accused President Trump of having a “temper tantrum”.

“President Trump, you will not get your wall,” Mr Schumer said on the floor on Friday.

“You’re not getting you wall today, next week or on January 3 when Democrats take control of the House.”

“It is a shame that this president, who is plunging the nation into chaos, is throwing another temper tantrum and going to hurt lots of innocent people.”

“The Trump temper tantrum may produce a government shutdown, it will not get him his wall.”

In a combative Oval Office meeting with Democratic leaders earlier this month, Mr Trump said he would be “proud” to own a government shutdown if lawmakers did not provide funding for his marquee election promise.

“So I will take the mantle,” he said. “I will be the one to shut it down. I won’t blame you for it.”

But on Friday, he insisted the Democrats were to be held responsible for the shutdown.

Thousands of government workers are in the firing line with Departments of State, Agriculture, Interior, Treasury, Justice, Commerce, Homeland Security and Transportation among others set to cease operations on Friday evening local time.

Much of the national park system will close, as will New York’s Statue of Liberty and The National Zoo in Washington.

Depending on how long the shutdown lasts, the State Department may also stop issuing or renewing passports and visa.

According to the Los Angeles Times, more than 800,000 federal workers will be affected.

Those whose jobs are deemed “essential”, including prison employees, air traffic controllers and border control agents, will be forced to work without pay.

“I have two relatives that work damn hard keeping this country safe. They are losing their pay at Christmas because of the Trump shutdown,” read one tweet.

Regardless, Democrats are unwilling to back down.

“Let me be clear: I will vote against funding Trump’s wasteful border wall,” wrote Senator Kemala Harris of California.

Added Senator Martin Heinrich of New Mexico: “The Senate already passed a bipartisan solution to fund the government. It’s up to President Trump to accept this bipartisan agreement and not shut down the government.”

Ebony Bowden contributed reporting from New York City.

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