This is the moment the US government went into shutdown

US government shutdown latest: Trump blames Chuck Schumer's Democrats for being 'more concerned with illegal immigrants than border safety'

Opposition senators 'wanted to give me a nice present on my anniversary', says President

Jon Sharman
Washington DC
,Alexandra Wilts
Saturday 20 January 2018 12:22
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Donald Trump has blamed Democrats for the US government shutdown, saying in a tweet they had “played politics” instead of prioritising the military and border safety.

He tweeted early on Saturday morning: “Democrats are far more concerned with Illegal Immigrants than they are with our great Military or Safety at our dangerous Southern Border. They could have easily made a deal but decided to play Shutdown politics instead. #WeNeedMoreRepublicansIn18 in order to power through mess!”

A bill to fund the federal budget failed at midnight last night after Democrats tried to attach protections for undocumented migrants brought to the US as children – the so-called “dreamers”.

All but five Democrats voted against the budget measure, while five Republicans also opposed it.

Both parties accused the other of causing the closure, fighting to avoid voters' anger ahead of mid-term elections in November.

In a second tweet, the President said: “This is the One Year Anniversary of my Presidency and the Democrats wanted to give me a nice present. #DemocratShutdown”.

And seeking to head off criticism of the ruling party, Mr Trump added: “For those asking, the Republicans only have 51 votes in the Senate, and they need 60.

“That is why we need to win more Republicans in 2018 Election! We can then be even tougher on Crime (and Border), and even better to our Military & Veterans!

“#AMERICA FIRST!”

While negotiations will continue today, the government is technically out of money, leaving scores of federal agencies across the country unable to continue operating – although the effect will be lessened by the shutdown starting on a weekend.

Services deemed essential, like law enforcement, the military, air traffic control and others will run as normal.

In a statement issued just before midnight, the White House said it would not negotiate with the Democrats on immigration until the end of the shutdown.

Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said: “We will not negotiate the status of unlawful immigrants while Democrats hold our lawful citizens hostage over their reckless demands.

“When Democrats start paying our armed forces and first responders we will reopen negotiations on immigration reform.”

Democrats faced being labelled obstructionist, with Republicans branding the consequences of no deal a “Schumer shutdown” – referring to Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer.

Mr Schumer tweeted that “there is no one who deserves the blame for the position we find ourselves in more than President Trump”. On the Senate floor he said in comments directed at Mr Trump: “It’s almost as if you were rooting for a shutdown.”

Before the midnight deadline expired he had urged the President to “heed his own words,” referencing a 2011 interview in which he had said: “If there is a shutdown I think it would be a tremendously negative mark on the president of the United States”.

Republican majority leader Mitch McConnell also cast blame on his political opponents.

“What we’ve just witnessed on the floor was a cynical decision by Senate Democrats to shove aside millions of Americans for the sake of irresponsible political games,” he said.

Mr Schumer met with Mr Trump on Friday afternoon to try and find common ground.

One person familiar with the events said the two men agreed to seek a grand deal in which Democrats would win protections from deportation for some 700,000 young undocumented immigrants and Mr Trump would get more money for a border wall and tighter security to stem illegal immigration.

By early evening, however, that plan was dead. The source said Mr Trump had spoken in the meantime with conservative Republicans and been hit with their objections to the deal with Mr Schumer.

“He did not press his party to accept it,” Mr Schumer claimed later.

Donald Trump address the March for Life at The White House

Senators were set to resume negotiations at 12pm on Saturday after Mr McConnell proposed a new plan that would extend federal funding to 8 February, rather than a week later as was initially planned.

Democrats and Republicans both said they wanted a quick agreement.

Additional reporting by agencies

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