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Sunday 10 December 2023 Dublin: 11°C
Blame Game

Trump calls for 'nuclear option' in bid to end government shutdown in US

A divided Congress is hoping to end a budget impasse tonight.

US PRESIDENT DONALD Donald Trump has launched a fresh attack on his opponents ahead of a new effort to end the government shutdown.

A divided US Congress is hoping to end a budget impasse tonight before hundreds of thousands of federal workers are forced to start the week at home without pay.

The impact of the shutdown that began at midnight on Friday has been largely limited so far, closing sites like New York’s Statue of Liberty, but the effect will start to become acute if the stalemate runs into tomorrow.

Republicans and Democrats have traded bitter recriminations over who is to blame for the failure to pass a stop-gap funding measure by a 20 January deadline, a year to the day since Trump took office.

“Great to see how hard Republicans are fighting for our Military and Safety at the Border. The Dems just want illegal immigrants to pour into our nation unchecked,” Trump wrote on Twitter.

trump realDonaldTrump / Twitter realDonaldTrump / Twitter / Twitter

He also encouraged the Senate’s Republican leaders to invoke a procedural manoeuvre known as the “nuclear option” to change the chamber’s rules to allow passage of a budget by a simple majority of 51 votes to end the shutdown.

Senate leaders have been wary of such a move in the past, as it could come back to haunt them the next time the other party holds a majority.

Undermining Trump’s ‘victory lap’ 

White House budget director Mick Mulvaney accused some Democrats of wanting to “deny the president sort of the victory lap of the anniversary of his inauguration” — echoing a complaint Trump earlier made on Twitter.

“There’s other Democrats who want to see the president give the State of the Union during a shutdown,” Mulvaney said on Fox News, referring to the nationally televised address Trump is set to deliver on 30 January.

However, White House legislative director Marc Short told ABC that progress is being made, and Mulvaney also said there is a chance to have the government open before the workweek begins tomorrow morning.

Late yesterday top Senate Republican Mitch McConnell set a key vote for a funding measure for 1am local time (6am Irish time) tomorrow, with both houses of Congress set to reconvene today.

“I assure you we will have the vote at 1am on Monday, unless there is a desire to have it sooner,” he said in a statement.

At the heart of the dispute is the thorny issue of undocumented immigration.

Democrats have accused Republicans of poisoning chances of a deal and pandering to Trump’s populist base by refusing to fund a programme that protects an estimated 700,000 ao-called Dreamers — undocumented immigrants who arrived as children — from deportation.

© AFP 2018 

Read: What actually shuts down during a US government shutdown?

Read: Ukip leader loses no confidence vote after row over comments made by ex-girlfriend

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