Government Partial Shutdown Officially Starts After Lawmakers Miss Deadline

By Allen Zhong

The U.S. government has officially begun a partial shutdown after the House and Senate failed to reach an agreement on a government spending Bill before the deadline of 12:01 a.m. on Dec. 22.

The Senate adjourned without passing the government funding package, which would have prevented funding from running out for almost a quarter of government entities at midnight that same day. The package also includes nearly $8 billion in disaster relief funding for areas affected by the year’s devastating coastal hurricanes and wildfires in California, and $5 billion to construct a wall between the U.S. and Mexico border.

Vice President Mike Pence and other White House officials were on Capitol Hill late Friday trying to broker a compromise as President Donald Trump pushes for $5 billion in border wall funding, a proposal Democrats staunchly oppose.

The Senate vote was repeatedly postponed as senators returned to Washington from their holiday to cast their vote. After a five-hour delay, Pence cast a tie-breaking vote that kick-started negotiations that senators had hoped to provide a resolution.

“What this does is push this ahead to a negotiation,” Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) told The Associated Press, adding it was “the best we can do to keep from shutting down government—or if it does shut down, shutting down very briefly.”

Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said top leaders are talking and agreed that any government disruption could be short.

Pence met with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) who indicated other offers to keep the government running with existing levels of border security funds remain on the table.

Vice President Mike Pence (second from L) with White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, and incoming White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney leave for the night on Capitol Hill in Washington, on Dec. 21, 2018. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Congress is planning to be back in session Saturday at noon and lawmakers have been informed they will receive 24-hours’ notice to return to the capitol, Washington.

“We’re going to have a shutdown,” Trump said via video message on Twitter less than three hours from the deadline. “There’s nothing we can do about that because we need the Democrats to give us their votes.”

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, speaks with reporters on his way to the senate chamber at the Capitol in Washington, on Dec. 21, 2018. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

White House budget chief Mick Mulvaney has instructed agencies to “execute plans for an orderly shutdown” when government funding lapses at midnight.

Nine of 15 Cabinet-level departments and dozens of agencies will temporarily lose funding, including the departments of homeland security, transportation, interior, agriculture, state, and justice, as well as national parks and forests.

Many agencies, including the Pentagon and the departments of Veterans Affairs and Health and Human Services, are funded for the year and would continue to operate as usual. The U.S. Postal Service, busy delivering packages for the holiday season, would not be affected because it’s an independent agency.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) leaves the chamber at the Capitol in Washington, on Dec. 21, 2018. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Both the House and Senate packages would extend government funding through Feb. 8, all but guaranteeing another standoff once Democrats take control of the House in the New Year.

The Trump administration hopes the shutdown will only be temporary and not last long. Mulvaney said in a memo to government executives he is “hopeful that this lapse in appropriations will be of short duration.” Employees should report to work when scheduled to “undertake orderly shutdown activities,” he added.

“There are a lot of us who want to avoid a shutdown,” said Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.). “I’ve been through about five of them in my career. None of them have worked in terms of their intent.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

From The Epoch Times.