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Federal US Government employees will be sent home or obligated to work without pay as Congress refused to meet President Donald Trump's demands for $US5 billion ($7.1 billion) to start erecting a border wall with Mexico.
Overall, more than 800,000 federal employees would see their jobs disrupted, including more than half who would be forced to continue working without pay.
While previous shutdowns have demonstrated that employees do eventually get paid retrospectively, this will mean a raft of employees will not receive a pay packet over the costly Christmas period.
Social Security checks will still go out. Troops will remain at their posts. Doctors and hospitals will get their Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements.
The US Postal Service, busy delivering packages for the holiday season, is an independent agency and won't be affected.
In fact, virtually every essential government agency, like the FBI, the Border Patrol and the Coast Guard, will remain open.
Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers will continue to work at airport checkpoints.
The air traffic control system, food inspection, Medicare, veterans' health care and many other essential government programs will run as usual.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency can continue to respond to disasters.
Nearly all of the Department of Homeland Security's 240,000 employees will be at work because they're considered essential.
The Special Counsel's Office, which is investigating potential ties between the Trump campaign and Russia, will not be affected by a shutdown.
But hundreds of thousands of federal workers will be forced off the job, and some services will go dark. Even after funding is restored, the political repercussions could be enduring.
The Washington Monument and many other iconic park service attractions would close, as would museums along the National Mall.
In the past, the vast majority of national parks were closed to visitors and campers, but during the last government shutdown in January the Interior Department tried to make parks as accessible as possible despite bare-bones staffing levels.
It is not clear if that effort will be repeated, and a spokesperson for the Interior Department has not answered questions about the agency's overall plans for a shutdown.
Leadership at the agency is in flux, with Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke resigning effective January 2 in the face of ethics investigations.
While they can be kept on the job, federal workers cannot get paid for days worked while there is a lapse in funding. In the past, however, they have been repaid retrospectively even if they were ordered to stay home.
Federal workers are exempted from furloughs (leave of absences) if their jobs are national security-related or if they perform essential activities that "protect life and property".
According to a Democratic report on the Senate Appropriations Committee, more than 420,000 federal employees deemed essential would continue to work without pay during a partial shutdown, including about 41,000 law enforcement and corrections officers and nearly 150,000 Homeland Security employees.
Meanwhile, more than 380,000 employees will be furloughed — including nearly all of NASA and Housing and Urban Development and 41,000 Commerce Department employees.
About 16,000 National Park Service employees — 80 percent of the agency's workforce — will be furloughed, and many parks will close. Some parks already are closed for the winter.
At the Internal Revenue Service, 52,000 staffers will be furloughed, slowing analysis and collection of hundreds of thousands of tax returns and audits.
Way back in the day, shutdowns usually weren't that big a deal. They happened every year when Jimmy Carter was president, averaging 11 days each.
During President Reagan's two terms, there were six shutdowns, typically just one or two days apiece. Deals got cut. Everybody moved on.
Before a three-day lapse in January, caused by Democrats' insistence that any budget measure come with protections for young immigrants known as "dreamers," the most recent significant shutdown was a 16-day partial shuttering of the government in 2013.
That one came as Republican tea party conservatives tried to block implementation of Obama's health care law.
The government also shut down for a few hours in February amid a partisan dispute over deficit spending.
A partial government shutdown has started in the United States after Democrats refused to meet President Donald Trump's demands for billions of dollars to fund 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, with Vice-President Mike Pence, acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and senior adviser Jared Kushner dashing back and forth at the Capitol.
The US House of Representatives and the Senate adjourned without a deal on spending, and senators were told there would be no more votes on Friday night.
The shutdown, which started at midnight local time (4:00pm Saturday AEDT), is expected to disrupt Government operations and leave hundreds of thousands of federal workers granted a leave of absence or forced to work without pay just days before Christmas.
At a White House bill signing, Mr Trump said the Government was "totally prepared for a very long shutdown".
Mr Trump blamed the Democrats for the shutdown, even though just last week he said he would be "proud" to shut part of the Government in a fight for the wall.
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 as the shutdown approached.
Democrats will take control of the House in January, and they oppose major funding for wall construction.
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".
He convened Republican senators for a morning meeting, but the lengthy back-and-forth did not appear to set a strategy for moving forward.
A person granted anonymity because they were unauthorised to discuss the private session said the President would not get behind lower levels of funding the senators discussed. He has demanded $US5.7 billion.
Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell returned to Capitol Hill and quickly set in motion a procedural vote on a House Republican package that would give Mr Trump the money he wants for the wall, but it was not expected to pass.
To underscore the difficulty, that Senate vote to proceed was stuck in a long holding pattern as senators were being recalled to Washington.
They had already approved a bipartisan package earlier this week that would continue existing border security funding, at $US1.3 billion, but without new money for Mr Trump's wall. Many were home for the holidays.
Only after a marathon five-hour delay did Mr Pence cast a tie-breaking vote that loosened the logjam, kickstarting negotiations that senators hoped could produce a resolution.
Democrat Steny Hoyer said it looked like a shutdown might not be avoidable, but top leaders were talking and he indicated any government disruption could be short.
Amid the impasse, Mr Pence and the others were dispatched to the Capitol to meet with Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer, who told them that Mr Trump's demands for wall money would not pass the Senate, according to the senator's spokesman.
Mr Schumer told Mr Pence, Mr Mulvaney and Mr Kushner other offers to keep the Government running with existing levels of border security funds remained on the table.
The Senate was expected to reject the House measure because Democratic votes are needed and Mr McConnell showed little interest in changing the rules — as Mr Trump proposed — to allow a simple majority for passage.
One possibility was that the Senate might strip the border wall funds out of the package, pass it and send it back to the House. House politicians were told to remain in town on call.
Another idea was to revive an earlier bipartisan Senate bill with $US1.6 billion for border security but not the wall.
"The biggest problem is, we just don't know what the president will sign," Arizona senator Jeff Flake said.
Some senators were so vocally displeased about returning to Washington that Mr McConnell and others sported lapel buttons declaring them members of the "Cranky Senate Coalition".
Texas senator John Cornyn said he returned to his state on Thursday only to get back on an early Friday morning flight to Washington.
Democratic senator Brian Schatz flew all the way home to Hawaii, tweeting that he spent 17 minutes with his family, before returning on the 11-hour flight.
"Wheels down IAD ready to vote no on this stupid wall," Mr Schatz tweeted, referring to Dulles International Airport outside Washington.
Only a week ago, Mr Trump insisted during a televised meeting at the White House he would take ownership of a shutdown over his border wall.
"I will be the one to shut it down," he said.But shortly before the midnight deadline, he sought to reframe the debate and blame
Nancy Pelosi was the only adult in the room...
President Trump gets into a fiery meeting with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer on funding for a border wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. » Subscribe to CNBC: ht...
I would have given the title to Mike Pence, but after a while I think it became clear he had no idea what was going on.
Like assholes, we all have one.
US President Donald Trump said parts of the US Government will stay closed until Democrats meet his demands to fund his long-promised wall at the US-Mexico border.
In a Christmas Day appearance in the Oval Office (local time), Mr Trump issued a long defence of his desire for a wall, saying it was the only way to deter criminal elements such as stopping drugs and human traffickers from entering the country.
"We can't do it without a barrier. We can't do it without a wall," he said.
In a nod to the political stakes he has been facing, Mr Trump said he wants the wall by "election time" in 2020.
The promise of a border wall was a central component of Mr Trump's presidential campaign in 2016.
"I can't tell you when the government's going to be open. I can tell you it's not going to be open until we have a wall or fence, whatever they'd like to call it," Mr Trump said, referring to Democrats who staunchly oppose walling off the border.
"I'll call it whatever they want, but it's all the same thing."
Democrats oppose spending money on a wall, preferring instead to pump the dollars into fencing, technology and other means of controlling access to the border.
Mr Trump argued that Democrats oppose a wall only because he is for one.
The stalemate over how much to spend and how to spend it caused the partial government shutdown that began following a lapse in funding for departments and agencies that make up about 25 per cent of the government.
The government shutdown does not affect essential government agencies such as the FBI, Border Patrol and Medicare.
However, some 800,000 government workers are affected while some services that include parks and museums would be closed during the shutdown.
Many are on the job but must wait until after the shutdown to be paid again.
Mr Trump claimed that many of these workers "have said to me and communicated, 'stay out until you get the funding for the wall.' These federal workers want the wall. The only one that doesn't want the wall are the Democrats".
The US President did not say how he was hearing from federal workers, excluding those he appointed to their jobs or who work with him in the White House.
But many rank-and-file workers have gone to social media with stories of the financial hardship they expect to face because of the shutdown, now in its fourth day.
Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leaders of the Senate and Congress, said Mr Trump "wanted the shutdown, but he seems not to know how to get himself out it."
Mr Trump had said he'd be "proud" to shut down the government in a fight over the wall.
"It's a disgrace what's happening in our country but, other than that, I wish everybody a very merry Christmas," he said.