A shutdown of government spending on certain departments is set to last until January, Donald Trump’s new acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney has warned.
Spending stopped flowing to many public employees in the United States on Friday after Trump and Congress failed to agree on a budget for his proposed wall.
Trump refused a lower sum as a compromise and made good on his threat of a partial shutdown of government spending, changing his mind on an earlier temporary compromise which left many public workers with no salaries.
After belligerently boasting to Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer in the Oval Office, “I am proud to shut down the government for border security… I will take the mantle. I will be the one to shut it down. I’m not going to blame you for it,” Trump appeared to change his tune by Friday morning, tweeting “The Democrats now own the shutdown!”
Meanwhile this video of one of the times he criticised his predecessor in the White House, Barack Obama for facing similar problems negotiating budgets when he faced a Republican majority in Congress has emerged.
Trump, then a reality TV star on The Apprentice, phoned into Fox News to insist that President Obama, should – as in his Apprentice catchphrase – be “fired!”
“If you say who gets fired it always has to be the top,” insisted Donald Trump. “Problems start from thetop and they have to get solved from the top. And the president’s the leader. He’s got to get everyone in a room and he’s got to lead. But he doesn’t do that.”
Trump, responding to an impending shutdown in 2013, put the blame firmly at the feet of President Obama, adding all that mattered was “who the president was at that time. They’re not going to be talking about who was the head of the House, the head of the Senate, who’s running things in Washington.”
What is the government shutdown?
Trump refusing to allow a temporary bill to pass has meant that funding for nine out of 15 federal departments ran out of funding on Saturday morning.
Hundreds of thousands of public employees will have to work unpaid or go on temporary leave.
Departments affected include the Inland revenue, Homeland Security, Justice, Agriculture, Housing, Transportation and State Departments.
Vital activities will hopefully continue, though this will cause chaos and delays as, for example, most tax workers will be sent home.
Other departments such as defence, education and labour stay fully funded until their budgets are renewed in September 2019.
Trump warned that the shutdown could last a “very long time.” Congress does not meet again until the new year, so it will be at least January 3 before the impasse can be worked on.
Whose fault is the shutdown?
Trump, earlier this month boasted he would be “proud” to shut down the government and take full responsibility for “border security,” but has now changed his tune calling it a “Democrat shutdown.”
His acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, blamed Democrats” beholden” to their left wing. Republicans and Fox News, needless to say, are spinning this narrative too. They blame the Democrats for offering around a fifth of the $5bn Trump wants for his wall.
But President Trump refused a temporary stay on government spending that he had previously agreed to stop a shutdown.
After weeks of threatening that government funding would lapse if he wasn’t allowed $5bn for his border wall, on Thursday he insisted that he would not sign the temporary measure which had received support from both sides and passed all the way through congress.
In a joint statement Senate Democrat Leader Chuck Schumer and House Democrat Leader Nancy Pelosi blamed a Trump “temper tantrum,” saying: “instead of honouring his responsibility to the American people, President Trump threw a temper tantrum and convinced House Republicans to push our nation into a destructive Trump Shutdown in the middle of the holiday season.”
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