The US House of Representatives and Senate have adjourned without a spending deal, all but ensuring a partial government shutdown at midnight in the US with President Donald Trump demanding billions of dollars for his long-promised Mexican border wall.
Mr Trump’s top envoys were straining to broker a last-minute compromise with Democrats and some of their own Republican Party’s politicians.
But Vice President Mike Pence, incoming White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and senior adviser Jared Kushner departed the Capitol after hours spent dashing back and forth, with no outward signs of an agreement.
The shutdown, scheduled for midnight, would disrupt government operations and leave hundreds of thousands of federal workers given a leave of absence or forced to work without pay just days before Christmas.
Senators passed legislation ensuring workers receive back pay, which will be sent to the House.
At a White House bill signing, Mr Trump said the government was “totally prepared for a very long shutdown”, though hardly anyone thought a lengthy shutdown was likely.
The president tried to pin the blame on Democrats, even though just last week he said he would be “proud” to claim ownership of a shutdown in a fight for the wall.
Appealing to Democrats, Mr Trump said in a Twitter video late on Friday that “we’re going to have a shutdown” and “there’s nothing we can do about that because we need the Democrats to give us their votes”.
The message came after Mr Trump said he would not sign legislation Republicans had written because it did not include enough money for the border wall with Mexico.
Mr Trump said to “call it a Democratic shutdown, call it whatever you want” while also saying politicians need to work on a bipartisan basis.
He added: “Hopefully the shutdown will not last long.”
Campaigning for office two years ago, he had declared the wall would go up “so fast it will make your head spin”.
He also promised Mexico would pay for it, which Mexico has said it will never do.
“This is our only chance that we’ll ever have, in our opinion, because of the world and the way it breaks out, to get great border security,” Mr Trump said on Friday at the White House.
Democrats will take control of the House in January, and they oppose major funding for wall construction.
Looking for a way to claim victory, Mr Trump said he would accept money for a “Steel Slat Barrier” with spikes on the top, which he said would be just as effective as a “wall” and “at the same time beautiful”.
Congress is planning to be back in session on Saturday, but no votes were scheduled. Politicians were told they would be given 24-hour notice to return to Washington.
Senator Richard Shelby, the chairman of the Appropriations Committee, left negotiations calling the chances of an accord by midnight “probably slim”.
Mr Trump convened Republican senators for a morning meeting, but the lengthy back-and-forth did not appear to set a strategy for moving forward. He has demanded 5.7 billion dollars (£4.51 billion).
“I was in an hour meeting on that and there was no conclusion,” said Senator Chuck Grassley.
The White House said Mr Trump would not go to Florida on Friday as planned for the Christmas holiday if the government was shutting down.