National Christmas Tree Goes Dark On 3rd Day Of US Govt Shutdown

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Washington: Washington’s National Christmas Tree went dark Monday on the third day of a US government shutdown that left President Donald Trump fuming at opponents and stock markets teetering.

The tree, whose spectacular lights were switched on at a ceremony attended by Trump earlier this month, became a forlorn symbol of the dysfunction gripping Washington two years into his presidency.

The National Park Service tweeted that it would remain unlit and closed to the public “until further notice,” with checks being made for damage following an attempt by an intruder on Friday to climb the tree.

The parks service is one of the many state institutions suffering from a suspension of funding triggered by Trump’s refusal to sign a broad spending package unless Congress agrees to allocate $5 billion for his controversial barrier along the US-Mexican border.

The budget standoff could drag on into January, when the new Congress is seated, although negotiations were planned for Thursday, offering a glimmer of hope.

Trump made a Mexico border wall one of his main campaign promises and the idea is popular with many Republicans backing the president’s message that illegal immigration is out of control.

Democrats and some Republicans in Congress oppose the plans as impractical, unnecessary and fueling xenophobia against Central Americans. The shutdown only adds to uncertainties spooking global stock markets after a tumultuous week in which respected Defense Secretary Jim Mattis resigned and the president stepped up attacks on the supposedly independent chairman of the Federal Reserve.