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Current government shutdown ties record for longest shutdown in American history

Posted at 6:11 AM, Jan 11, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-11 06:13:23-05

The ongoing partial government shutdown hit a new milestone on Friday by matching the record for the longest government shutdown in US history.

Today marks the 21st day of the partial shutdown that started days before Christmas over a standoff between President Donald Trump and congressional Democrats over funding for the President's long-promised border wall.

That's the same length of time as the 21-day shutdown that stretched from December 1995 to January 1996 as a result of a clash between President Bill Clinton and the GOP Congress. That shutdown currently holds the record as the longest in US history.

As of now, there is still no end in sight to the current partial shutdown, putting it on track to break that record by Saturday.

The President and congressional Democrats remain at an impasse as Trump continues to demand more than $5 billion for a border wall and Democrats refuse to agree to that request.

An estimated 800,000 federal workers have been impacted by the shutdown, either by having to work without pay while it lasts or by being furloughed.

The lapse in funding has hit roughly a quarter of the federal government, including the Department of Homeland Security, the Justice Department, the Interior Department and the State Department.

The President ramped up his efforts this week to make a direct appeal to the American public.

Trump delivered a prime-time address to the nation on Tuesday night where he warned of a "crisis" at the southern border with Mexico, and on Thursday, he made a visit to the border.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer forcefully rebutted the President in a speech of their own Tuesday where Pelosi accused Trump of "holding the American people hostage" to his demands.

As the shutdown drags on, Trump has repeatedly raised the possibility that he might declare a national emergency in an effort to secure funding for a border wall. Congressional Republicans have sounded wary of such a move and some have expressed outright opposition, while Democrats have expressed alarm.

In a sign of the deep divide between the two parties, congressional lawmakers spent much of the week blaming the other side for the impasse -- with no significant action taken to resolve the shutdown.

House Democrats spent the week advancing spending bills to reopen shuttered parts of the federal government, but the legislation they have put forward will not include any new money for a wall and has been met with White House veto threats.

Prospects for any kind of a deal grew even dimmer after Trump walked out of a meeting with Schumer and Pelosi on Wednesday to discuss the shutdown and then took to Twitter to call it "a total waste of time."

Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has made clear that he won't take up any legislation related to the shutdown in the Senate that President Donald Trump won't sign. And the President has dug in in his refusal to sign legislation that does not meet his demand for roughly $5 billion for a border wall, which Democrats refuse to provide.

On Thursday, Senate Democrats attempted to force a vote in the Senate on the House-passed spending bills, but were blocked by McConnell who accused Democrats of taking part in "political stunts" and described their efforts as little more than pointless "show votes."

A last-ditch, long-shot effort to broker compromise in the Senate also appeared to stall out on Thursday.

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who had been involved in the effort, told reporters on Thursday, "I just don't see a pathway forward," after several days of talks.

Other senators said they recognized that the only way out of the standoff would be for Trump, Pelosi and Schumer to reach a deal that would be acceptable to them and that could pass the House and Senate and be signed into law.

Sen. Richard Shelby, an Alabama Republican who chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee, put it this way: "The President and Schumer and Pelosi are going to have to get together and say, 'This is what we agree on.'"


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