US House, Senate in scramble as government shutdown looms

Published: 19 January, 2018 22:03 IST | IANS | Washington D.C

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said: "My Democratic colleagues' demands on illegal immigration, at the behest of their far-left base, have crowded out all other important business."

Donald TrumpUS President Donald Trump

A shutdown of the US federal government is looming with opposition in the House and Senate to a Republican bill that would keep the government open for another month.Without action by Congress, the government will shut down on Saturday, the Hill magazine reported. House Republican leaders scrambled on Thursday evening to lock down votes for the funding bill in the hours leading up to the floor vote before drama shifted towards the Senate.

The possibility of a federal shutdown moved closer to a certainty after Senate Democrats rallied against the GOP proposal, announcing they would not lend their votes to a bill that did not reflect their priorities on immigration, government spending and other issues, the Washington Post reported.

"Shutdown coming?" President Donald Trump tweeted on Friday, attempting to blame Senate Democrats for the logjam with the midnight deadline looming. "Government Funding Bill past last night in the House of Representatives," Trump wrote.

"Now Democrats are needed if it is to pass in the Senate - but they want illegal immigration and weak borders. Shutdown coming? We need more Republican victories in 2018!"

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said: "My Democratic colleagues' demands on illegal immigration, at the behest of their far-left base, have crowded out all other important business."

"And now they are threatening to crowd out the needs of veterans, military families, opioid treatment centres and every other American who relies on the federal government -- all over illegal immigration."

Senators of both parties voted to open debate on the House bill late Thursday, but Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer said Democrats remained opposed to the measure and proposed a spending extension that would last just a few days to allow talks on a broader agreement to continue.

Emboldened Democratic leaders, meanwhile, rallied lawmakers for a showdown on what they believe is favourable ground, fighting on behalf of popular policies against an "unpopular President".

Democrats are demanding a budget deal should include protections for young immigrants known as "Dreamers" brought to US as children, yet Republicans who control both chambers of the Congress have shown no signs of including a "Dreamers" protection in the bill.

The federal government is running on its third temporary spending bill since fiscal year 2018 which began on October 1, last year. The current funding measure expires on Friday. The last government shutdown occurred in 2013 after Republican lawmakers refused to support a spending bill that included funds for the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare.

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