US government shuts down after deadline passes with Senate unable to vote on extending short-term deal

The US government has shut down after Congress failed to pass a key budgetary measure on time. At midnight on Friday, when the deadline officially expired, the Senate adjourned with no vote on a measure to extend the stop-gap federal funding.

The upper chamber of Congress struggled to overcome roadblocks to passing a government funding bill and budget plan when a conservative senator objected to a swift vote, and leadership opted to close up shop.

Representational image. AP

Representational image. AP

The one remaining senator, Rand Paul of Kentucky, held up the vote when he demanded a debate in the chamber on his amendment to maintain spending caps.

However, The New York Times reported that the shutdown is expected to be only temporary with Congress expected to reconvene and hold a series of votes. If the House can approve the deal, the shutdown could be over with no impact on everyday life across the US.

Paul, angered at the huge spending increases at the centre of the deal, delayed passage for hours with a demand to vote on an amendment that would keep in place strict caps on spending that the deal would raise.

"The reason I'm here tonight is to put people on the spot. I want people to feel uncomfortable. I want them to have to answer people at home who said, 'How come you were against Barack Obama's deficits and then how come you're for Republican deficits?" he asked.

As midnight approached, Paul did not relent, bemoaning from the Senate floor what he saw as out-of-control government spending and repeatedly rebuffing attempts by his fellow senators to move ahead with a vote.

The bill, which extends government funding for six weeks and raises the federal debt ceiling, would break the cycle of government funding crises in time for what is set to be a bruising campaign for November's mid-term elections.

Despite simmering rebellion among Republicans and Democrats over a bipartisan budget agreement struck on Wednesday to end the logjam, the Senate had been aiming to vote on the deal later on Thursday before sending it to the House.

But moving legislation quickly through the upper chamber of Congress requires consent by all 100 members, and that is when Paul threw a wrench in the works by objecting to a rapid vote.

With inputs from agencies


Updated Date: Feb 09, 2018 11:06 AM

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