Gov­ern­ment shut­down be­comes long­est in US his­tory


WASH­ING­TON (Reuters) – A par­tial US gov­ern­ment shut­down over Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s de­mand for $5.7 bil­lion to build a wall along the US-Mex­ico bor­der en­tered its 22nd day on Satur­day, mak­ing it the long­est shut­ter­ing of fed­eral agen­cies in US his­tory, with no end in sight.

The clo­sure broke a decades­old record set by a 1995-1996 shut­down un­der for­mer pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton that lasted 21 days.

Trump said on Fri­day he would not de­clare a na­tional emer­gency “right now” to end a stand­off over bor­der se­cu­rity that has idled about a quar­ter of the US gov­ern­ment. He spoke af­ter law­mak­ers had ad­journed for the week­end, pre­clud­ing any pos­si­ble ac­tion un­til next week.

In a tweet on Satur­day, Trump took aim again at the Democrats.

“Democrats should come back to Wash­ing­ton and work to end the Shut­down, while at the same time end­ing the hor­ri­ble hu­man­i­tar­ian cri­sis at our South­ern Bor­der. I am in the White House wait­ing for you!” he tweeted.

Trump also urged his 57.2 mil­lion twit­ter fol­low­ers to con­tact Demo­cratic law­mak­ers and “Tell them to get it done!”

Democrats in Con­gress, who call a wall an in­ef­fec­tive, out­dated an­swer to a com­plex prob­lem, have passed sev­eral bills to re­open the gov­ern­ment with­out fund­ing for Trump’s bar­rier. But the leg­is­la­tion has been ig­nored by the Repub­li­can-con­trolled Se­nate.

Trump orig­i­nally pledged Mex­ico would pay for the wall, which he says is needed to stem the flow of il­le­gal im­mi­grants and drugs. But Mex­ico has re­fused.

US gov­ern­ment de­part­ments in­clud­ing the Trea­sury, En­ergy, Com­merce and State de­part­ments, shut down when fund­ing lapsed on De­cem­ber 22. Fund­ing for other por­tions of the gov­ern­ment, in­clud­ing the De­part­ment of De­fense and Con­gress, was ap­proved, al­low­ing them to con­tinue reg­u­lar op­er­a­tions.

The dis­pute has dis­rupted ev­ery­thing from air travel to tax col­lec­tion and sus­pended pay for many gov­ern­ment work­ers.

Roughly 800,000 fed­eral work­ers did not re­ceive pay­checks that would have gone out on Fri­day. Some have re­sorted to sell­ing their pos­ses­sions or post­ing ap­peals on on­line fund-rais­ing sites to help pay their bills.

Mi­ami In­ter­na­tional Air­port said it will close one of its ter­mi­nals early over the next sev­eral days due to a pos­si­ble short­age of se­cu­rity screen­ers, who have been call­ing in sick at twice the nor­mal rate.

A union that rep­re­sents thou­sands of air traf­fic con­trollers sued the Fed­eral Avi­a­tion Ad­min­is­tra­tion on Fri­day, say­ing it had vi­o­lated fed­eral wage law by fail­ing to pay work­ers. It is at least the third law­suit filed by unions on be­half of un­paid work­ers.

The head of the US Se­cret Ser­vice, which is re­spon­si­ble for pro­tect­ing Trump, has warned em­ploy­ees that fi­nan­cial stress can lead to de­pres­sion and anx­i­ety. “Keep an eye out for warning signs of trouble,” Di­rec­tor R.D. “Tex” Alles wrote in a memo seen by Reuters.

Trump has re­peat­edly de­scribed the sit­u­a­tion at the Mex­ico bor­der as a “hu­man­i­tar­ian cri­sis” as spec­u­la­tion has in­creased this week that he would cir­cum­vent Con­gress to be­gin build­ing his sig­na­ture wall – a move that would be sure to draw a court chal­lenge from Democrats who say the bar­rier would be bar­baric and in­ef­fec­tive.

In­stead, the pres­i­dent urged law­mak­ers to pro­vide him the $5.7 bil­lion he is seek­ing for bor­der se­cu­rity.

A na­tional emer­gency would al­low Trump to di­vert money from other projects to pay for the wall, which was a cen­tral prom­ise of his 2016 cam­paign. That, in turn, could prompt him to sign bills that re­store fund­ing to agen­cies that have been af­fected by the shut­down.

(Car­los Barria/Reuters)

A WASH­ING­TON bar looks for busi­ness as the par­tial US gov­ern­ment shut­down en­ters its record-set­ting third week.

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