January 20, 2018 12:00 am
Updated: January 20, 2018 1:12 pm

U.S. government shuts down, Congress to consider 3-week spending measure

The U.S. government stopped operating at midnight Friday, halting all but essential services.

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The U.S. government shut down at midnight after Congress failed to resolve a partisan standoff over immigration and spending.

Last-minute negotiations crumbled as Senate Democrats blocked a four-week stopgap extension in a late-night vote, causing the fourth government shutdown in a quarter century. Behind the scenes, however, leading Republicans and Democrats were trying to work out a compromise to avert a lengthy shutdown.

READ MORE: U.S. govt on verge of shutdown with Senate bill poised to fail ahead of midnight deadline

Congress scheduled an unusual Saturday session to begin considering a three-week version of the short-term spending measure.

WATCH: U.S. senators react to government shutdown.

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In a late-night vote, Senate Democrats joined to block a bill that would have kept the government running for another four weeks. A flurry of last-minute negotiations failed to beat the deadline.

Democrats have tried to use the Friday night funding deadline to win concessions from Republicans, including an extension of an Obama-era program protecting some young immigrants from deportation. The program is set to expire in March. Republicans sought more time for talks, but Democrats refused.

The shutdown is only the fourth government closure in a quarter-century. It will only partially curb government operations. Uniformed service members, health inspectors, and law enforcement officers are set to work without pay.

WATCH: Here’s what happens during a U.S. government shutdown

President Donald Trump tweeted earlier that efforts to avert a shutdown were “not looking good.” He blamed Democrats, who he accused of gunning for a shutdown to “help diminish the great success of the Tax Cuts, and what they are doing for our booming economy.”

Trump had summoned Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer to the White House Friday afternoon in hopes of cutting a deal. But the two New Yorkers, who pride themselves on their negotiating abilities, emerged from the meeting at the White House without an agreement, and Republicans and Democrats in Congress continued to pass off responsibility.

WATCH: White House asked about Trump claim that U.S. needs ‘a good shutdown’

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders blamed Schumer and the Democrats for the shutdown in a statement tweeted out just before midnight.

“Senate Democrats own the Schumer Shutdown,” the statement began. “Tonight, they put politics above our national security, military families, vulnerable children, and our country’s ability to serve all Americans.

“We will not negotiate the status of unlawful immigrants while Democrats hold our lawful citizens hostage over their reckless demands. This is the behavior of obstructionist losers, not legislators. When Democrats start paying our armed forces and first responders we will reopen negotiations on immigration reform. During this politically manufactured Schumer Shutdown, the President and his Administration will fight for and protect the American people.”

The last government shutdown in October 2013 lasted more than two weeks and more than 800,000 federal employees were furloughed.

— With files from Global News reporter Rahul Kalvapalle

© 2018 The Canadian Press

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