Bill allows US government shutdown to end for three weeks

28 Jan 19

The US will still build a wall along the Mexican border, despite ending the shutdown – the longest in history – without the funds, president Donald Trump has said.

Congress unanimously passed a bill on Friday to temporarily reopen the government for just three weeks, giving the Republicans and the Democrats time to negotiate the spending plans.

More than 800,000 federal workers have struggling to cover their bills as they were without pay during the shutdown, which lasted 35 days.

On Twitter on Friday, Trump said the deal was “in no way a concession” on the wall.

The Republican party has said it would reject any spending plans that do not include the $5.7bn for Trump’s wall or steel barrier on the border.The Republican party has said it would reject any spending plans that do not include the $5.7bn for Trump’s wall or steel barrier on the border. The Democrats, who control of the House of Representatives, refuse to fund the wall.

Trump, who signed the temporary agreement into law, said in a tweet on Saturday that negotiations would start immediately but would not be easy because both the Republicans and the Democrats were “very dug in”.

The president told reporters at the White House that federal workers affected by the shutdown would receive full back-pay. He also said he would not yet resort to “a very powerful alternative [to get the funding for the wall]” – a reference to declaring a national emergency.

This could divert military funding towards building a barrier, for national security, but it is likely to provoke legal challenges and uproar.

The US Senate rejected two bills that could have ended the partial federal government last week.

The Republicans and the Democrats had each drafted a spending bill in an attempt to end the reopen the government departments, which were shut down on 22 December.  

After the bills were rejected, Senate leaders from both parties briefly discussed the proposal to reopen the federal agencies for three weeks, to give more time to negotiate the spending plans, which was later agreed.

Earlier in January analysis from a global rating agency warned the cost of the US shutdown could exceed the amount of border wall funding Trump is demanding if the impasse drags on into next month.

According to S&P Global Ratings, the US economy lost at least $6bn during the partial federal government shutdown because of lost productivity and economic activity.

Trump shut down a quarter of the government in December after the government funding package did not include the $5.5bn for the wall he wants built on the Mexican border.

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