Vietnam Time

1/22/2018 2:15:13 PM

Government still shut down on Monday as US Senate fails to clinch deal

A U.S. government shutdown enters its third day on Monday as Senate negotiators failed to reach agreement late on Sunday to restore federal spending authority and deal with demands from Democrats that young "Dreamers" be protected from deportation.

Birds fly in front of the dome of the U.S. Capitol as the deadline for the government shutdown looms in Washington, DC on Jan 19, 2018. (Photo: AFP/Mandel Ngan)

The Senate set a vote for 12 p.m. (1700 GMT) on Monday on advancing a measure to provide temporary government funding through Feb. 8, end the shutdown and allow hundreds of thousands of federal employees to return to work.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell offered an olive branch to Democrats late on Sunday, pledging on the Senate floor to bring immigration legislation up for debate in February if the issue is still unresolved by then.

At the core of Democrats' demands is the fate of young people, known as Dreamers, who were brought to the country illegally as children. Former Democratic President Barack Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) programme extended legal protections to about 700,000 of them, shielding them from being deported.

"It would be my intention to proceed to legislation that would address DACA, border security and related issues," McConnell said, adding: "It is also my intention take up legislation on increased defence spending, disaster relief and other important matters" then.

It was unclear whether there would be enough Democratic votes on Monday to advance a temporary spending bill.

Funding for federal agencies ran out at midnight on Friday amid an impasse between President Donald Trump, congressional Republicans and Democrats over DACA and other immigration issues.

Democrats want Trump, who last year ordered an end to DACA in March, to live up to an earlier agreement to protect the Dreamers. Democrats refused last week to support another short-term government funding extension.

Republican Senator Jeff Flake, part of a bipartisan working group pushing for legislation to replace DACA, told reporters that McConnell was still six or seven Democratic votes short of breaking the impasse that led to the shutdown.

Flake said negotiations would resume early on Monday leading up to the midday vote on the Senate floor.

The shutdown is the first since a 16-day closure in October 2013 and its effects will be more visible on Monday, when financial markets and federal offices open.

The White House said Trump's planned trip to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, this week was in flux because of the standoff on Capitol Hill.

With elections set for November for a third of U.S. Senate seats and the entire House of Representatives, both sides are manoeuvring to blame the other for the shutdown./.

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