US government officially shuts down as Congress fails to pass spending bill in time

Date | 09-02-2018 - 02:54 PM Article Type | Stock Markets Region | United States

U.S. Capitol during the government shutdown in Washington, January, 2018


By Jacob Pramuk 

  • The Senate failed to pass a spending bill before a midnight Thursday government shutdown deadline.
  • Some government agencies will run out of money and workers will get furloughed.
  • The funding lapse may not last long, as the Senate and House are voting on a budget agreement by Friday morning.

U.S. government funding lapsed Friday as Congress' efforts to pass a spending bill fizzled out in the Senate for the second time in less than a month.

Despite bipartisan support for a massive budget agreement, Congress failed to approve a funding plan before the midnight Thursday deadline. It is just the latest example of gridlock on Capitol Hill during the current GOP-controlled Congress.

In this case, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., blocked repeated moves to vote on the measure over concerns about massive spending increases contained in the budget deal. Paul called the spending reckless and pushed for a vote on an amendment to reinstate budget caps, which Senate leadership did not allow.

The Senate recessed until early Friday and funding expired at the end of Thursday, leaving the government partially shut down. Some government agencies will run out of money and have to furlough workers.

Hundreds of thousands of federal workers would not go into work Friday if a shutdown lasts through the start of business. Others would work without getting paid at first. A government shutdown is only partial — functions like the postal service and Social Security checks would continue.

On Thursday, the Office of Management and Budget told government agencies to start getting ready for funding to lapse. The National Treasury Employees Union, a major labor union for federal agency workers, said in a statement that agencies will tell employees if they get furloughed. The union would coordinate with Congress to ensure employees get paid if they have to work, it said.

The funding lapse may not last long. The Senate is expected to pass the bipartisan funding agreement early Friday morning, followed by the House later in the morning.

If the House can overcome opposition from both conservatives and liberals to approve the measure, Congress can send the legislation to President Donald Trump's desk to quickly end the shutdown.

The partial shutdown in late January lasted for two full days and part of a third.

Senate leaders hoped to approve their budget agreement quickly on Thursday afternoon. The bill before the Senate would set up a roughly $300 billion increase in the budget caps over two years.

It would pave the way to boost spending on the military and domestic programs, as well as authorize disaster relief for areas of the U.S. ravaged by natural disasters last year.

To vote Thursday, the Senate needed all of its members to agree on moving forward. But Paul objected to what he called reckless spending increases.

"What you're seeing is recklessness trying to be passed off as bipartisanship," he said on the Senate floor.

With Paul blocking every attempt to make the vote earlier, the earliest the Senate could start a series of votes was 1 a.m. Friday. Senate leaders were confident they had the support to pass the legislation on Friday morning.

The House could vote on the bill by roughly 6 a.m. on Friday morning.

Author: Heng V. Mony
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