Jitters mount as second US shutdown looms after talks stall over border wall

Federal air traffic controller union members protest the US federal government shutdown at the U.S.

Bipartisan negotiators in Washington are running out of time to reach a deal over Donald Trump’s demand for a border wall after talks stalled, raising the prospect of another government shutdown starting on Friday.

Leaders from both main parties sitting on a 17-strong negotiating panel must reach a deal over the disputed border security issue by Monday if there is to be time for Congress to pass legislation and Trump to sign it before the latest deadline of 15 February. Should they fail to reach agreement within hours, federal agencies, already exhausted after the 35-day shutdown that ended last month having impacted 800,000 federal employees, will yet again start to close from Friday at midnight.

“The talks have stalled right now,” Richard Shelby, Republican chairman of the senate appropriations committee told Fox News Sunday. “I’m hoping we can get off the dime later today or in the morning, because time’s ticking away, but we’ve got some problems.”

Shelby put the odds of a deal being reached against a second shutdown occurring at 50-50. “I’m not confident we’re going to get there. The next 24 hours are crucial,” he said.

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