Government shutdown begins as legislators fail to reach deal

Posted at 6:34 PM, Jan 19, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-20 00:18:01-05

WASHINGTON -- Split by disagreements over federal spending and the fate of young immigrants who arrived in the United States as children, Republicans and Democrats failed to reach a deal that would keep the government open past midnight Friday.

In a statement, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders declared: “We will not negotiate the status of unlawful immigrants while Democrats hold our lawful citizens hostage … This is the behavior of obstructionist losers, not legislators.”

Senate Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) had negotiated with Trump and Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) in the lead-up to Friday night’s vote, and the president tweeted optimistically about the interaction. Several hours later, however, the tone had soured.

"We made some progress, but we still have a good number of disagreements," Schumer said upon returning to Capitol Hill. Budget Director Mick Mulvaney told CNN that "Not much has changed" over the course of the day, but he predicted a deal would be reached by Monday, when most government offices are to reopen after the weekend.

Each side was eager to blame the other in the immediate aftermath. The White House dubbed the event the “Schumer Shutdown” while #TrumpShutdown trended on Twitter.

A government shutdown does not mean a total halt. Programs and bodies deemed essential, such as the United States military, will still report for duty. (Trump has claimed otherwise; this is incorrect.) Social Security, air traffic control, the postal service and the Transportation Security Administration will continue to operate, although their employees could miss paychecks.

However, national parks, zoos and museums will be closed, Washington residents could see an interruption in garbage service, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives will see its operations interrupted -- if you want a gun permit, you have to wait.

The election-year standoff marked a test of the president's much vaunted deal-making skills -- and of both parties' political fortitude. Republicans, who control both Congress and the White House, face the prospect of being blamed for the display of dysfunction -- just the fourth shutdown in a quarter-century. It could also threaten to slow any GOP momentum, one month after passage of the party's signature tax cut law.

This shutdown is the first since 2013, when tea party Republicans -- in a strategy not unlike the one Schumer employed -- sought to use a must-pass funding bill to try to force then-President Barack Obama to delay implementation of his marquee health care law.

At the time, Trump told Fox & Friends that the ultimate blame for a shutdown lies at the top. "I really think the pressure is on the president," he said.