The US suffered a partial shutdown at midnight following the realization that the Senate cannot pass a spending bill. Sixty senators are needed to end debate and move on to approve the spending bill, but it became clear last night that it would not be possible to reach this number.
The sticking point here is President Donald Trump’s demands for a border wall. Trump wants $5 billion for the wall, which is widely opposed in both parties. The House of Representatives passed a spending bill containing money for the wall, but it could not pass the Senate.
Republicans need Democratic votes in the Senate because of the 60 vote requirement, but to get Democratic votes, they would need to strip the bill of border wall funding. Even if they could successfully do so, the House could reject the changes and the President certainly would.
Congress will reconvene today, with many lawmakers cancelling holiday travel to attend. However, there is little prospect of success if Trump continues to insist on money for the wall. The building of a border wall is still a fringe issue on Capitol Hill.
Trump has succeeded in angering both Democrats and Republicans in Congress, with several GOP lawmakers expressing dismay and dissatisfaction with the situation. Many moderate Republicans are not in favor of the wall as Trump has proposed it, and most realize it would be both expensive and impractical.
There is no clear path to a solution. Any spending bill without border wall funding will be rejected by the White House and if Democrats give in on the wall, it would be a serious political misstep. Democrats will take control of the House in January, when passing legislation will become even more difficult if Trump persists with his current attitude.