United States government careens towards shutdown as Senate remains divided over Budget bill
If the Senate fails to reach an agreement by Friday midnight, federal government agencies will be left without any money.
The United States Senate is facing a midnight deadline on Friday to come up with a legislation on funding federal agencies, Reuters reported. If the Senate fails to reach an agreement over the bill, which the House of Representatives passed on Thursday, federal government agencies will shut down.
“The vote this afternoon looks challenging for us to keep the government open,” said President Donald Trump’s legislative liaison officer, Marc Short. Trump’s budget director Mick Mulvaney said that there was a 50% likelihood of a shutdown.
Federal agencies in the US are funded using annual budget appropriations bills. The Senate at the moment is embroiled in a fight about how the government should spend the money. If the bill is passed, it will fund government agencies and departments only till February 16, and negotiations for a long-term bill will begin again in the coming weeks.
At the moment, the Republicans do not have the required 60 votes to pass the bill in the 100-member Senate. Also, of the 51 Senators from the Republican Party, only 47 are in favour of the bill, BBC reported. The Republicans and the Democrats are divided over the Democratic Party’s demand to protect more than 7,00,000 undocumented immigrants from deportation. These undocumented immigrants were granted temporary legal status by former President Barack Obama, but in September 2017 Trump ended the programme and allowed the Congress to replace it by March 2018.
Trump and the Republican Party have used this as a leverage to win the support of Democrats. Though the Republicans attempted to win the Democrats’ support by including in the bill a provision allowing a six-year extension to a health insurance scheme for children from low-income families, Democrats want a permanent extension to the programme protecting immigrants.