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Posted at: Jan 13, 2019, 7:16 AM; last updated: Jan 13, 2019, 7:19 AM (IST)

Trump’s shutdown becomes longest in US history

Trump’s shutdown becomes longest in US history
Donald Trump

Washington, January 12

The partial shutdown of the US government has become the longest on record, overtaking the previous record of the 21-day impasse in 1995-96 under then President Bill Clinton.

With no end in sight to the political standoff, the current shutdown entered its 22nd day on Saturday and eclipsed the shutdown that stretched from December 16, 1995, to January 6, 1996, the US media reported.

US President Donald Trump and Congress have been at loggerheads over his demand to include in the budget $5.7 billion funding for building a wall along the Mexico border. Democratic leaders have rejected his call.

About a quarter of the federal government was still out of operation till a spending plan was agreed upon, leaving 800,000 employees unpaid.

Trump vacillated on Friday over whether he would declare a national emergency to build the wall. With no clear path forward, the President earlier in the week had said he would do so and divert money from other departments to build the wall without congressional approval, according to Efe news.

But in his latest comments Trump said that “what we’re not looking to do right now” is a national emergency. “I’m not going to do it so fast”. 

Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of federal employees missed their first paychecks on Friday, raising the pressure on lawmakers and the White House to end the shutdown. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the extended shutdown “totally unnecessary”.

With negotiations unsuccessful, staff at the White House Office of Management and Budget were laying the groundwork for the shutdown to continue through the end of February, according to White House officials who were briefed on the plans.

In one sign that lawmakers were feeling some pressure, the House on Friday passed a bill approving back pay for federal employees who missed their paychecks because of the shutdown.

The bill, which the Senate approved on Thursday, mandated that the roughly 420,000 essential employees working without pay and the 380,000 furloughed workers would be compensated as soon as the government reopens. Trump said he would sign the bill.

Democrats warned that if Trump declares a national emergency to build the wall, he could set a precedent that could backfire on Republicans under a future Democratic President. “They should be concerned that if he wants something passed, he or she is going to try to bypass the Congress by going this particular route,” said Representative Henry Cuellar.

But some Republicans also pushed President Trump to declare an emergency, given the impasse with Democrats over wall funding. — IANS

Where is Senator McConnell?

  • When President Trump stormed out of a White House meeting with congressional leaders last Wednesday, US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell sat there silently, uttering not a word as the talks blew up

  • The No. 1 Republican in Congress, who rose to power on his reputation as a master of legislative wrangling, has had little to say in public or private during a partial federal government shutdown and has no end in sight

  • Showing no interest in defying his President, McConnell has kept a low profile. This posture, allies and opponents said, is about McConnell protecting himself, vulnerable Republicans and their control of the Senate ahead of the 2020 elections

  • At the core of his quiet loyalty to Trump, despite past friction between them, is a calculation that Trump’s popularity with Republican voters makes standing by him and being politically wise than responding to short-term worries about the shutdown, experts said

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