Fox News host Shep Smith on the shutdown news: Trump and Republicans can't blame Democrats

Alina Polianskaya

A Fox News presenter has questioned how the Republicans, who are “in charge of everything”, could blame the Democrats for the US government shutdown, which began today as politicians failed to reach a deal on funding for federal agencies.

Speaking ahead of the vote, on the news channel which is known for its bias in favour of the Republicans, news anchor Shep Smith said: “Back in Washington there is one discussion: government shutdown. Of course with one party in charge of everything a government shutdown will not happen, right? I mean never in history – or at least modern history – of the country has there been a government shutdown when a single party is in charge of Washington.

"Hook, line and sinker. House, Senate, White House, on party in charge, that’s it. Republicans have it all. Yet the possibility of a government shutdown has escalated.”

The long-standing news host has previously discredited theories by the US President, such as Trump’s accusations of Hillary Clinton being involved in a uranium scandal with Russia. Smith's stance has often angered viewers of the right-leaning channel.

His latest words came in anticipation of the US government shutdown, which began after Congress failed to pass a short term spending plan by the deadline of midnight last night. The vote was 50-49, well short of the 60 needed in the 100-member chamber.

The last government shutdown was 2013, under Barack Obama's leadership. But this is the first where one party was in charge of all parts of government since Jimmy Carter was President in the 1970s. With a Republican majority in both houses of Congress, many have branded the inability to reach a deal the biggest crisis yet for Trump's administration, which began a year ago.

A shutdown occurs when the government fails to pass a funding plan, which leads to many government services being frozen and numerous staff being told not to work. Many workers are not paid for the duration. Roughly 750,000 workers are expected to be furloughed unless the government reaches an agreement over funding this weekend.

Both sides of the political spectrum have tried to blame the other for the shutdown.

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said his party took significant steps to reach a deal.

"It's almost as if you were rooting for a shutdown," Mr Schumer said in comments on the Senate floor aimed directly at Trump.

The plan, which would agree on a short term budget until February 16, included six years of funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

As Democrats wanted a secure future for CHIP, the Republicans have questioned how they could vote against a bill which they say does just that.

Days earlier, the US President himself tweeted a message seemingly against the Republican’s plans for the short term resolution for CHIP. From his @realDonalTrump account, he wrote on Thursday: “CHIP should be part of a long term solution, not a 30 Day, or short term, extension!”

But the President subsequently came round to supporting the stopgap measure. He tweeted the following day: “A government shutdown will be devastating to our to our military...something the Dems care very little about!”

A sticking point for many Democrats who voted against the spending bill is what happens to the Dreamers, undocumented migrants who were brought to the US as children by their parents. The spending bill does not offer this group of people, which numbers roughly 700,000, any protection.

Democrat votes were needed for the bill to be passed. In yet another tweet, Mr Trump said yesterday: “Government Funding Bill past last [sic] night in the House of Representatives. Now Democrats are needed if it is to pass in the Senate - but they want illegal immigration and weak borders. Shutdown coming? We need more Republican victories in 2018!”

Minutes before Friday's midnight deadline for a funding deal, Trump's White House issued a statement blaming Democrats for the shutdown. "We will not negotiate the status of unlawful immigrants while Democrats hold our lawful citizens hostage over their reckless demands," it said.

The US government will try again to agree on a funding solution before Monday, to try and resolve the shut down before the start of the working week.

Additional reporting by Reuters

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