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Associated PressJan 20, 2018, 11:05 am

Government shutdown begins and so does the finger-pointing

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi says Trump gets F for 'failure in leadership'


WASHINGTON (AP) — Americans awoke Saturday to learn that bickering politicians in Washington had failed to keep their government in business, halting all but the most essential operations and marring the anniversary of President Donald Trump's inauguration.

It was a striking display of Washington dysfunction, and the finger-pointing came quickly. Trump tweeted that Democrats "wanted to give me a nice present" to mark the start of his second year in office.

The Republican-controlled Congress scheduled an unusual weekend session to begin considering a three-week version of a short-term spending measure and to broadcast to the people they serve that they were at work as the closure commenced. It seemed likely that each side would push for votes aimed at making the other party look culpable for shuttering federal agencies.

The fourth government shutdown in a quarter-century began at the stroke of midnight Friday, last-gasp negotiations crumbling when Senate Democrats blocked a four-week budget extension. Behind the scenes, however, leading Republicans and Democrats were trying to work out a compromise to avert a lengthy shutdown.

The closure began at the start of a weekend, so many of the immediate effects will be muted for most Americans. Damage could build quickly if the closure is prolonged. And it comes with no shortage of embarrassment for Trump and political risk for both parties, as they wager that voters will punish the other at the ballot box in November.

Trump said Democrats "could have easily made a deal but decided to play Shutdown politics instead." In a series of tweets hours after the shutdown began, the president tried to make the case for Americans to elect more Republicans to Congress in November "in order to power through this mess." He noted that there are 51 Republicans in the 100-member Senate, and it often takes 60 votes to advance legislation.

Reinforcing the president's position, White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said Saturday that Trump will not negotiate immigration policy with Congress until the shutdown ends. The bill that failed in the Senate did not include protection for certain immigrants living illegally in the country, as Democrats had demanded as a condition for their support.

"We are not going to negotiate ... immigration until this government's open," Gidley told reporters at the White House.

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said Saturday on the House floor that Trump had earned an F for "failure in leadership." She said Republicans are "so incompetent and negligent that they couldn't get it together to keep the government open."

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