Washington: The US government today edged closer to a potential shutdown after Senate Democrats angered by a lack of progress on a broader budget and immigration deal threatened to block a short-term extension of a spending bill to keep federal offices open.
After the House last night passed the measure, 230 to 197, with strong Republican support, the bill was headed for probable defeat in the Senate amid opposition from most Democrats and a few Republicans.
Democrats are rejecting the package because it lacks an immigration deal to protect so-called Dreamers from deportation.
To avoid a government shutdown, the Senate needs to pass the short-term spending approving government funding through 16 February and then it needs to be signed by the US President Donald Trump.
The passage of the bill and the presidential approval has to be done before midnight today, otherwise the working of the federal government would come to a standstill.
Hundreds and thousands of employees would have to stay at home without pay. Overseas, visa and passport services could be closed.
Except for those involved in national security and national emergency would, everyone would have to stay at home.
House Speaker Paul Ryan urged the Democratic Senators to avoid a government shutdown.
“Whether there is a government shutdown or not is entirely up to them. (Senate Minority Leader) Senator (Chuck) Schumer, do not shut down the federal government. It is risky, it is reckless and it is wrong,” he told reporters.
“We want to move forward, we want to get something done, we don t want to keep kicking the can down the road,” Schumer said.
Meanwhile, the State Department said that it is putting in place prudent management of this.
The Secretary’s office is reviewing all the available options as to how it should handle some of the decision-making going forward, if this were to happen, if there were to be a government shutdown.
“We will be prepared for all contingencies including the possibility of a lapse. That would mean a government shutdown,” State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert told reporters.
The Office of Management and Budget, has requested that all agencies determine ways to minimise the impact on the American people, she said.