U.S. Senate adjourns as partial government shutdown continues

Source: Xinhua| 2018-12-23 16:08:16|Editor: Shi Yinglun
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WASHINGTON, Dec. 23 (Xinhua) -- The U.S. Senate is adjourning until next week without a deal to end the partial government shutdown that began at midnight Friday, after failed attempts to resolve a budget impasse over the funding of the president's planned border wall.

"#Senate has adjourned for the day and will meet in a pro forma session on Monday, December 24th and will return on Thursday, December 27th at 4:00 p.m. and consider business if a deal has been reached on government funding," the Senate tweeted Saturday afternoon.

A pro forma session, which typically only lasts a few minutes, doesn't involve votes, but senators are able to clear legislation by unanimous consent.

The U.S. House and Senate convened Saturday noon on Capitol Hill, but didn't break the deadlock over the proposed 5-billion-U.S.-dollar U.S.-Mexico border wall, a centerpiece of President Donald Trump's 2016 campaign.

Shortly after the gathering, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced that "no further votes will occur until the president and Senate Democrats have reached an agreement to resolve this."

"We pushed the pause button until the president, from whom we will need a signature, and Senate Democrats, from whom we will need votes, reach an agreement," he said.

Trump said earlier Saturday that he was negotiating with the Democrats to end the partial government shutdown, but "it could be a long stay" due to ongoing disagreements over his demand to build a border wall.

The third government shutdown of the year closed about a quarter of federal offices, affecting nine of 15 Cabinet-level U.S. departments and dozens of agencies, including the departments of Homeland Security, Transportation, Interior, Agriculture, State and Justice.

A few hours after the shutdown began, Office of Management and Budget General Counsel Mark Paoletta said Saturday afternoon in a conference call with reporters that the budget office is striving to make the shutdown "as painless as possible" with a "minimum disruption" for Americans.

Earlier this week, senators reached a deal on a short-term funding measure that did not include the 5 billion dollars Trump is seeking, and the president, despite appearing to soften his position, later said he would not sign the bill. The House passed a temporary spending bill late Thursday that includes the border wall money but couldn't get enough votes to clear the Senate.

"Democrats have little incentive to cede much to Mr. Trump in the negotiations, since they believe blame for the shutdown will be pinned on the president and that their leverage will increase in January when they take control of the House," the Wall Street Journal said in an article Saturday.

Trump has been attempting to point a finger at the Democrats for the standoff. The president tweeted on Friday that "The Democrats now own the shutdown!"

The Democrats have been firing back. "President Trump threw a temper tantrum and convinced House Republicans to push our nation into a destructive Trump Shutdown in the middle of the holiday season," House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said in a joint statement Saturday.

"I must say that the instability & chaos in our government the past few days has been particularly pronounced -- worse than at any point during my service in Congress, & really, my lifetime," outgoing Republican lawmaker Carlos Curbelo tweeted on Saturday. "Things are not well in the USA."