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Federal government partially shuts down amid impasse over border wall funding

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Federal government partially shuts down amid impasse over border wall funding
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Reuters
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WASHINGTON — The federal government partially shut down early Saturday morning after Democrats and Republicans failed to break their impasse over funding the wall that President Donald Trump wants to build along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Congress was unable to send a government funding bill to the president's desk by the midnight deadline after Republicans decided to rally around Trump's $5 billion border wall request and Democrats made clear that they would not budge in their opposition.

The House adjourned several hours before midnight, and senators were told to go home, essentially guaranteeing a partial shutdown a few hours later.

"We're going to have a shutdown. There's nothing we can do about that because we need the Democrats to give us their votes," the president said in a video posted to Twitter late Friday night, adding that the shutdown "hopefully will not last long."

Earlier in the day, Trump had said the White House was prepared for a "very long shutdown."

It was unclear exactly how long the shutdown would last: hours, days, or even longer — into early January, when Democrats will retake the House majority.

Earlier Friday, the White House sought to make progress in negotiations with congressional leaders on Capitol Hill as the Senate spent more than five hours on a vote to proceed to a government funding bill that would extend current funding to Feb. 8. The measure also included $5 billion for the wall and $8 billion for disaster aid.

The vote came to a close after talks between Vice President Mike Pence, incoming White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and senior adviser Jared Kushner and congressional leaders. Pence broke a 47-47 tie vote.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said in remarks on the floor that they had voted to proceed "in order to preserve maximum flexibility for productive conversation to continue between the White House and our Democratic colleagues."

"I hope Senate Democrats will work with the White House on an agreement that can pass both houses of Congress and receive the president's signature," McConnell said. "When an agreement is reached, it will receive a vote here on the Senate floor."

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., countered that Democrats had already offered three proposals to keep the government funded, including one that passed the upper chamber on Wednesday.

"We are willing to continue discussions on those proposals," with the White House and other congressional leaders, he said.

Trump had been scheduled to go to Mar-a-Lago in Florida for 16 days over the holidays, but White House press secretary Sarah Sanders had said that he would not go if a shutdown occurred.

Under the partial shutdown, more than 420,000 federal employees will be required to work without pay and an additional 380,000 will be sent home, according to a fact sheet compiled by Senate Democrats. TSA employees, Correctional officers, FBI agents, U.S. Marshals, Border Patrol officers, Coast Guard employees, Forest Service firefighters and Weather Service forecasters are all expected to continue working without pay.