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US shutdown looks set to drag through Christmas

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US shutdown looks set to drag through Christmas

Washington: A partial US government shutdown is set to continue through Christmas with no deal in sight to break the impasse over budget spending.

The Senate, which must pass a deal, has now adjourned until Thursday, the BBC reported.

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump will stay on in Washington for the festive period, cancelling holidays in Florida.

The shutdown began at midnight on Friday after Democrats resisted Trump’s demands for $5 billion for his Mexico border wall.

Trump warned there could be “a long stay” in the talks and Democrats told him: “You must abandon the wall.”

Vice-President Mike Pence stressed that negotiators were still talking.

Nine of 15 federal departments, including State, Homeland Security, Transportation, Agriculture and Justice began partially shutting down after funding for them lapsed at midnight (05:00 GMT Saturday).

Hundreds of thousands of federal employees will have to work unpaid or are furloughed, a kind of temporary leave. This is the third time US federal funding has lapsed so far this year, although the other two were brief.

The Senate held a rare Saturday session but it was not long before it adjourned.

Republican majority leader Mitch McConnell said the “pause button” had been pushed and that there would be no new Senate vote until he had a signature from the president – and agreement from the Democrats – on a budget deal.

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said a budget bill that had passed the Republican-controlled House on Thursday approving $5.7 billion of funding for the wall would “never pass the Senate, not today, not next week, not next year”.

He added: “So Mr President, if you want to open the government, you must abandon the wall, plain and simple.

“The Senate is not interested in swindling American taxpayers for an unnecessary, ineffective and wasteful policy”.

In a tweet on Saturday, Trump said “we are negotiating with the Democrats on desperately needed border security” but the talks “could be a long stay”.

He again defended the wall, saying “the crisis of illegal activity at our southern border is real and will not stop until we build a great steel barrier or wall. Let the work begin!”

One White House official said the administration hoped the shutdown would last only a few days but it could be longer.

Some Republican lawmakers still hope there can be a deal, perhaps involving less money for the wall.

About 380,000 government employees will be made to take temporary, unpaid leave.

Meanwhile, 420,000 employees working in essential roles — considered necessary for the “protection of life and property” — will keep working, without being paid.

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