President Donald Trump and Democrats in the US Congress are poised to earn the dubious distinction as architects of the longest government shutdown in US history, provided there is no breakthrough before midnight on Friday.
Saturday will mark Day No. 22 of a partial government shutdown, surpassing the previous record set with the Clinton administration’s 21-day closure that began in December 1995.
Friday also marked the first missed paycheck for more than 800,000 federal government workers, about half of whom have worked without pay since the shutdown began December 22, with the remainder sent home.
“We just don’t know when it will be over, so we don’t know how to plan,” Department of Homeland Security employee Ryan Baugh said, as quoted by USA Today. “Should we cut back? Should we start looking for other jobs? Should we apply for unemployment?”
About a quarter of the federal government remained closed on Friday morning in a continuing standoff over a proposed border wall sought by President Donald Trump and opposed by congressional Democrats, led by House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.
Trump argues that a wall is needed at a time when border officials are blocking more than 60,000 illegal aliens from entering the United States each month, more than half of them children, according to US immigration officials.
Democrats claim that physical barriers are ineffective and that Trump has engineered a fake crisis for political gain.
As the weekend approaches, Trump is threatening to declare a national emergency — a move that would allow the president to order US troops to build a wall on the country’s border with Mexico.
If such a declaration is made later on Friday, the government could conceivably reopen before midnight, short of setting a new record. But most analysts anticipate a flood of lawsuits as Trump and Democrats in Congress continue to battle over the proposed barrier.