US govt shutdown may extend into January

Congress is in for a rough september

As United States president Donald Trump refuses to back down on the Mexico border wall, thousands of federal workers are set to have a glum Christmas this year due to non-payment of wages. And now it looks like the New Year too isn't going to bring in much cheer as the shutdown might just extend into January 2019.

Speaking of the partial government shutdown, Mick Mulvaney, Trump's budget director and chief of staff told Fox News Sunday thus: "It's very possible this shutdown will go beyond the 28th and into the new congress. I don't think things are going to move very quickly here for the next few days."

January 3 is the day that the new Congress will convene and the Democrats will take over the House of Representatives, after winning it in the polls in November.

Mulvaney also blamed Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic nominee for speaker of the House of Representatives, for the partial government shutdown and said that she may hold up the discussions further. "I think she's in that unfortunate position of being beholden to her left wing to where she cannot be seen as agreeing with the president on anything until after she is Speaker," Mulvaney added.

"If that's the case, again, there's a chance we go into the next congress."

The partial shutdown began on December 21 after Trump administration has said that the president would allow a partial government shutdown if Congress does not sanction $5 billion to build the wall. Calling it a "fundamental issue," senior adviser Stephen Miller said that the Democrats needed to decide if they were fine with illegal immigration in the country.

Trump has spoken of the wall along the US-Mexico border since he began his presidential campaign and has been insisting that Congress sanction funds for the same. While the president does not have the support of many Republican lawmakers, the Democrats too have refused to relent on the matter.

The Democrats have offered to continue the current funding of $1.3 billion, but have specified that this was for fencing and other security measures and not for the wall.

The shutdown has affected thousands of federal employees. While about 4,20,000 are said to be working without pay, about 3,80,000 have been sent on unpaid leaves just in time for the holidays. Several workers said that this was frustrating and worried about their finances.

"The big thing is, it's already a very tough job," Justin Tarovisky, a correctional officer at the United States Penitentiary Hazelton, in northern West Virginia told the New York Times. "But when you know that you've got to go to work and you're not going to be paid for it — or it's going to be late, no matter what — it really brings you down."

Another irate workers, who refused to be identified said that the shutdown was a very "selfish" move on the part of the political leaders. "What would you think if you didn't get paid?" he said.

Meanwhile, Trump, who was set to jet out to his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida for about 16 days, has now changed his plans and has reportedly cancelled his Christmas trip in view of the shutdown.