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Current government shutdown breaks record for longest in US history

Posted at 4:25 AM, Jan 12, 2019

The ongoing partial government shutdown entered its 22nd day on Saturday, breaking the record to become the longest government shutdown in US history.

The previous record dates back to the Clinton administration when a 21-day shutdown resulted from a clash between President Bill Clinton and the GOP Congress that lasted from December 1995 to January 1996.

For now, there is still no end in sight to the current shutdown, which has impacted roughly a quarter of the federal government and hundreds of thousands of federal workers.

An estimated 800,000 federal workers have been affected by the lapse in funding -- either by having to work without pay while it lasts or by being furloughed.

As the shutdown drags on, President Donald Trump and congressional Democrats have not made progress toward any kind of agreement that would put an end to it.

White House officials are expecting a quiet weekend at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. No meetings between White House officials and congressional staff are scheduled, and no appearances by the President are expected -- only tweets.

Last weekend, senior White House staff traveled to Camp David for meetings with acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, who has led shutdown talks, and officials pretaped interviews with television networks so they could get their message out on the Sunday shows.

As of Friday night, only Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was scheduled to appear on TV Sunday.

The President has insisted on more than $5 billion in funding for his long-promised wall at the US-Mexico border. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer of New York have refused to meet that demand, instead offering a far smaller sum to shore up border security and asking the President to reopen the government now and negotiate on border security later. Trump has rejected their offers, leading to an impasse that no one seems able to break.

Amid the unending shutdown, the President has started increasingly talking about the possibility of declaring a national emergency in an effort to circumvent Congress to obtain the funding he wants for a border wall -- a move that would be expected to face legal challenge and forceful pushback from Democratic lawmakers.

While declaring a national emergency is not completely off the table, Trump backed away from his threat Friday, saying he'd rather work it out with Congress. People close to the President said fears about a sharp backlash from lawmakers played a significant factor in this, despite Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, encouraging Trump on Friday to declare a national emergency "now."

The White House's hope is that once lawmakers are at home this weekend and hear complaints about the shutdown from their constituents, they will be more open to negotiating when they're back in Washington on Monday.

Both chambers of Congress passed legislation this week sponsored by Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland to guarantee back pay for federal workers who have been furloughed during the government shutdown.

But federal employees -- those on furlough and those who have remained on the job -- still won't be paid until the shutdown ends.

In the meantime, personal stories of how workers have been affected by the ongoing shutdown are making headlines and filling the airwaves.

Despite that, attempts at negotiation between lawmakers and the administration this week appeared to do nothing to move both sides any closer to a resolution.

The President walked out of a meeting with Schumer and Pelosi on Wednesday, calling it a "total waste of time."

An effort by GOP senators led by Graham for a compromise deal that provided both border wall funding as well as immigration provisions appealing to Democrats stalled on Thursday as the President was not in favor, according to two people directly involved.

Meanwhile, the Democratic-controlled House passed a series of spending bills to reopen shuttered parts of the government over the course of the week, but the legislation does not include any new money for a border wall.

As a result, the House bills faced a White House veto threat and stand no chance of being taken up in the Senate since Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky has said he will not hold votes on legislation related to the shutdown that the President will not sign.