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  1. ITV Report

Donald Trump blames Democrats for US government shutdown

  • Video report by ITV News Washington correspondent Robert Moore

Donald Trump has hit out at Congressional Democrats for the US government shutdown, a potentially avoidable closure of government services that has occurred, embarrassingly, at the end of his first year in office.

Hours after the Senate failed to reach a deal to keep things running, Mr Trump declared on Twitter that the Democrats had wanted to give him "a nice present" to mark the first anniversary of his inauguration.

The Democrats say the shutdown is the fault of the Republicans, who control both chambers of Congress and the White House, but have struggled to build internal consensus.

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In the Senate, Democrats blocked a bill that would have kept the government running for another four weeks, hoping to win concessions from Republicans over spending and on an Obama-era programme that protects some young immigrants from deportation.

A flurry of last-minute negotiations failed and the bill was defeated, even with a handful of red-state Democrats crossing the aisle to support the measure.

In a vote late on Friday night the bill gained 50 votes to proceed, with only 49 against, but this was far from the 60 needed to break a Democratic filibuster. Four Republicans voted in opposition.

In an unusual move, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell allowed the roll call to exceed 90 minutes - instead of the usual 20 or so - and run past midnight, seemingly accommodating the numerous discussions among leaders and other lawmakers, but the stalemate could not be broken.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell arrives at the Capitol. Credit: AP

The shutdown is the US government's first since 2013, and the fourth in 25 years.

It will only partially curb government operations as uniformed service members, health inspectors and law enforcement officers are set to work without pay.

But the inability to reach a deal is an embarrassment for the president, who bills himself as being a consummate deal-maker.

Dusk sets in over Capitol Hill in Washington DC. Credit: PA

Senate Democrats insisted the blame lay with Mr Trump.

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California said Trump had earned an "'F" for "failure in leadership".

Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat, said the president had appeared open to their demands during talks but later refused to honour them.

"Negotiating with President Trump is like negotiating with Jell-O," he said.

Democrats have also pointed out that during the 2013 shutdown Mr Trump was on record as saying the buck should stop with the president.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders, however, labelled the Democrats "obstructionist losers" in a tweet sent from the White House's official account.

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House Speaker Paul Ryan also said the situation was the fault of Senate Democrats, labelling the shutdown "utter madness".

Since the closure began at the start of a weekend, many of the immediate effects will be muted for most Americans.

But any damage could build quickly if the closure is prolonged.