Current shutdown breaks record for longest government shutdown in USA history

Minnie Murray
January 14, 2019

United States President Donald Trump said he was holding off on declaring a state of emergency to end the partial USA government shutdown that dragged into a 23rd day yesterday, as he insisted on US$5.7 billion (S$7.7 billion) to build a Mexico border wall that congressional Democrats oppose.

Nine of 15 cabinet-level departments have been closed since December 22, after Trump refused to sign a stopgap spending bill that didn't satisfy his demand for at least $5 billion to fund a wall along the southwest border.

"I do think if we reopen the government, if the president ends this shutdown crisis, we have folks who can negotiate a responsible, modern investment in technology that will actually make us safer", Democratic Senator Chris Coons of DE said on Fox. "I think it's the most insulting article I've ever had written", Trump told Fox News's Jeanine Pirro after the New York Times reported that law enforcement officials in 2017 began investigating whether Trump had been working on behalf of Russian Federation against American interests.

President Donald Trump is pushing back against the idea that he doesn't have a strategy to end the partial government shutdown, now into its fourth week.

The South Carolina Republican said Democrats thus far have not been willing to budge.

Republican senator Lindsey Graham, chairperson of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he urged the president on Sunday to reopen the government for a limited period to try to get talks going again. "That's why I'm depressed".

"The only crisis here is one that's been created by the president's abrupt change in position at the end of past year in the last days of a Republican-controlled Congress", Coons said.

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

"At some point, this kind of behaviour will switch economic psychology and cause an economic slowdown so I hope these guys get it together shortly". That, in turn, could prompt him to sign bills that restore funding to agencies that have been affected by the shutdown.

And Trump appeared to shoot down Graham's suggestion of a "wall plus" deal, saying Sunday on Twitter that even Democrats don't want to make "Dreamers" part of the shutdown talks.

The shutdown on Saturday became the longest U.S. government closure of the modern era, exceeding the 1995-96 funding lapse. "I think we're talking days, not weeks", the chairman and founding member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus said.

Trump insists building a wall along the border will bring down the nation's crime rate.

Miami International Airport closed one of its concourses for half the day last Saturday.

The last week has been contentious between Republicans and Democrats, as witnessed Wednesday when Trump walked out of a White House meeting with congressional leadership after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told the president "no" she would not support funding a border wall.

As a result, 800,000 federal employees - including FBI agents, air traffic controllers and museum staff - received no paycheques on Friday.

Officials say there have been no major delays and no impact on national security. Senate Democrats, whose votes would be needed to advance such legislation, have not indicated whether they would back it because they want the government to reopen instead.

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