The United States government could be shutdown for the first time in four years as Republicans and Senate Democrats struggle to reach consensus on measures to be included in a bill to fund the government.
Federal funding runs out at midnight on Friday.
The Republican-controlled House of Representatives passed a stopgap continuing resolution or “CR” to keep the government funded for the next month, but the real battle looms in the Senate where a super majority of 60 votes is required for any passage on a spending bill – that would require at least 9 Democrats to vote with Republicans in a move that is increasingly looking unlikely.
The last time the government was shutdown was in 2013 when Republican lawmakers tried to include language in a spending bill that would have delayed or defunded the Affordable Care Act, former President Barack Obama’s signature domestic legislation.
In this instance, Senate Democrats are refusing to budge unless the bill protects young immigrants brought into the country illegally as children among other measures.
“I ask the American people to understand this: The only people standing in the way of keeping the government open are Senate Democrats. Whether there is a government shutdown or not is now entirely up to them. I also want people to understand that Senate Democrats do not oppose any efforts in this bill. They’re just holding this critical funding hostage for a deal on it completely unrelated the immigration issue,” said Republican Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan.
“The American people want to government open for veterans, military families and the vulnerable. They want food and drug inspections to continue without interruptions. They want death benefits to continue to go out to families of service members killed in action. They want children and low-income families to continue to receive health coverage through SCHIP. They want a sensible compromise on immigration. But they cannot, Madame President, for the life of them understand why, why some senators would hold the entire country hostage,” said Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on the Senate floor.
Trust deficit between the two sides is at a historic low, particularly after the racist comments attributed to the President in the Oval office last week.
“The leader is looking to deflect blame, but it just won’t work. We all know what the problem is. It is complete disarray on the Republicans side. The bottom line is very simple – our leader, our republican leader has said that he will not negotiate, until he knows where President Trump stands. That’s why negotiations haven’t gotten anywhere,” said Democratic Minority Leader, Chuck Schumer, responding to McConnell .
Schumer indicated they are open to a short-term continuing resolution to allow for negotiations to conclude.
“There is no promise, and no likelihood that another kicking of the can down the road will get something done. We have to sit down together and solve this, with the President, or without. Until that happens, no amount of CR’s will get this done. I would suggest that we all vote for the motion to proceed, but instead, move a very short-term CR and we will negotiate it ourselves, or the president will join us and we can get the job done,” he added.
If a compromise is not found, the shutdown will happen midnight Friday affecting payments to active military personnel, national parks and museums could be closed while over 800,000 government employees could be furloughed on a daily basis.
The post US government shutdown looms appeared first on SABC News – Breaking news, special reports, world, business, sport coverage of all South African current events. Africa's news leader..