The US government has begun a partial shutdown after Republican senators failed to muster the votes needed to approve $5 billion that Donald Trump wants for a border wall fiercely opposed by Democrats.

Iran Press/America: The US president sought to blame Democrats, who responded by reminding him that he said last week he would be "proud" to shut down, key parts of the federal government in order to get funding for a wall on the US border with Mexico.

Talks between Donald Trump's team and Republican and Democratic leaders were expected to continue over the weekend. The Senate was set to return from recess at midday on Saturday, although it was not clear if it would have any new proposals to consider.

"We're going to have a shutdown," Trump said in a video posted to his Twitter account about two hours before a midnight deadline to pass a stop-gap spending bill. 


The shutdown is the third this year and it remained unclear how long it would last. 

Operations for several key agencies ceased at 12:01 am on Saturday (5:01 GMT), despite last-ditch talks that continued on Capitol Hill between White House officials and congressional leaders in both parties.

White House budget chief Mick Mulvaney instructed agencies "to execute plans for an orderly shutdown."

 Mulvaney said in a memo for government executives that "We are hopeful that this lapse in appropriations will be of short duration" but that employees should report to work when scheduled to "undertake orderly shutdown activities."

Nine of 15 Cabinet-level departments and dozens of agencies will temporarily lose funding, including the departments of Homeland Security, Transportation, Interior, Agriculture, State and Justice, as well as national parks and forests.

Initial Republican reaction to the shutdown was muted. Among the few GOP lawmakers who issued statements as it began were Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who expressed disappointment at the lack of a deal, and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee. "This is a complete failure of negotiations and a success for no one," Alexander said.

Republicans and Democrats in Congress made last minute efforts to avoid a Christmas shut down but appeared poles apart from agreeing a new spending bill.

Without an agreed bill funding for large swathes of the government ran out at midnight, meaning 800,000 public workers would go without pay over Christmas.

The shutdown means the closure of national parks, the Internal Revenue Service, and 95 per cent of Nasa's operations.

However, special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation would be among the government-funded projects not affected.

Trump had initially agreed to a spending bill that did not include funding for the wall but was targeted by a severe backlash from some of his most prominent supporters.

The president then decided he would not sign a spending bill without money for the wall.

On Thursday night the House of Representatives passed a new Republican bill which included the $5 billion.

Before voting on it the Senate was waiting for the return to Washington of some senators who had already left for Christmas.

However, the bill was still highly unlikely to pass in the face of strong Democrat opposition.

In a series of early-morning tweets on Friday Trump had called on Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the Senate, to use the "nuclear option".

That would require only a simple majority of 51, rather than a 'supermajority' of 60 votes, to pass the spending bill. However, McConnell said there was not enough support among Republicans to introduce that option.

The uncertainty over the shutdown contributed to further losses on the stock market.

The border wall was a key campaign promise for Trump in the 2016 election, and he continues to view it as a winning issue for his 2020 re-election.  101/ 211 /202


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