MERRY CHRISTMAS!: A government shutdown is all but certain after Trump border wall demands leave Congress in gridlock
- The federal government is on course for a partial shutdown at midnight, eastern time after the House adjourned without a spending deal on Friday night.
- The pending shutdown is the result of a last-minute flip by President Donald Trump on his demands for money for a US-Mexico border wall.
- Trump's demands led to gridlock in Congress on a broader funding bill.
- The shutdown will result in 800,000 federal workers going without pay as long as the government remains closed.
The federal government moved closer to a partial shutdown as the House adjourned without a federal spending deal on Friday, hours before a midnight deadline.
President Donald Trump's demands for a wall along the US-Mexico border led to a standoff in the Senate.Trump's sudden turnaround after supporting a short-term funding extension left Congress with little time to find a compromise that would prevent a shutdown.
Without a deal, a substantial portion of the federal government will close at midnight and it is unclear when the two parties will be able to find an agreement to reopen those departments.
How did we get here?
The shutdown is a culmination of weeks of debate between Democrats and Trump over the border wall funding. Here's how it broke down:
- December 6: Congress passes a short-term funding bill to delay the shutdown past the date of President George H.W. Bush's funeral.
- December 11: Democratic leaders and President Donald Trump meet to discuss the funding deadline. Trump demands $5 billion in border wall funding, Democrats counter with an offer of $1.6 billion in general border security funding. Trump rejects the idea and offers to take the blame for the shutdown. The president says he would be "proud" to shut down the government.
- December 19: The Senate passes a clean short-term funding bill, called a continuing resolution (CR), that does not include border wall funding but will keep the government open until February 8. Trump supported the bill at the time, Senate GOP leaders said.
- December 20: Trump flip-flops on the clean CR after listening to attacks from conservative TV pundits and the hardline House Freedom Caucus and announces that he will not sign a bill with no wall funding. House Republicans then pass a CR that includes $5.7 billion in wall funds.
- December 21: Trump demands the Senate vote for the House version of the CR and tells Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to get rid of the legislative filibuster in order to pass the vote with just GOP lawmakers, but the idea is a nonstarter. The Senate votes down the House version of the bill and the government moves closer to a shutdown at the midnight deadline.
What does the shutdown mean?
The shutdown does not affect the entire federal government since Congress already passed seven of the 12 major funding bills for next year. But the shutdown does impact a slew of departments including agriculture, commerce, justice, homeland security, the interior, state, transportation, and housing and urban development.About 800,000 federal workers from those agencies will be affected by the shutdown. Some 420,000 workers will be forced to work without pay since they are considered "essential" employees. The other 380,000 workers will be furloughed, which means these employees will be barred from work and will not receive pay.
According to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget the shutdown would result in the closure of a number of nonessential services in those impacted departments.
"Functions that would be stopped during a shutdown include entry into national parks, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) site inspections, refunds and audits by the Internal Revenue Service, several Federal Aviation Administration activities outside of air traffic control services, and vehicle safety activities and research," the CRFB said.
The workers could receive back-pay, but Congress would first need to pass a bill giving those employees the money. Members of Congress still receive paychecks during a shutdown.
Is there a way forward?
It's unclear if there is a deal on the table that would pass both chambers of Congress and get Trump's signature and many lawmakers are anticipating a long-term shutdown, if those circumstances materialize.
The president even told reporters on Friday a government shutdown may last for an extended period of time.
"I hope we don't, but we are totally prepared for a very long shutdown," Trump said during a meeting in the Oval Office.