By Michael Hernandez
The ongoing partial government shutdown became the longest closure in U.S. history Saturday as President Donald Trump continues to insist on funding for his border wall, a demand Democrats staunchly resist.
Another pay-less pay day came and went Friday for the 800,000 federal workers caught up in the impasse. And at 22 days in there is no end in sight.
The previous shutdown record took place under former President Bill Clinton while Republicans controlled both houses of Congress. It lasted three weeks, from December 1995 to January 1996.
Trump has worked with Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to ensure any legislation that does not include the $5.7 billion he is seeking for the separation barrier does not make it to the chamber floor.
That has been holding for now, but it is unclear how much longer the Republican leader will hold out.
Despite going into the shutdown with claims of pride and “taking the mantle” over a then-looming closure, Trump has repeatedly sought to blame Democrats for the current deadlock even as most opinion polls show the American public is increasingly blaming the president for the predicament.
“Democrats could solve the Shutdown in 15 minutes! Call your Dem Senator or Congresswoman/man. Tell them to get it done! Humanitarian Crisis,” he wrote on Twitter Saturday morning.
The president has claimed he can build the wall using emergency powers, but has so far shied away from the option, instead calling on lawmakers to provide him with the funding he wants to re-open the government and build his wall.
Should Trump choose to declare a national emergency he would have to divert previously appropriated funds with some reports suggesting the president’s team is scrambling to find revenue sources, including from ongoing disaster relief projects.
Democrats, however, are preparing a legal challenge should Trump execute the option.
“We’ve recognized all along that this is a political emergency for the president. It’s not a national security or military emergency,” Rep. Jamie Raskin, who sits on the House Judiciary Committee, told C-Span.
“To the extent this means that the president is essentially surrendering and he knows that there is not bipartisan consensus for his wall in Congress and so he’s going to attempt to do it unilaterally through administrative powers it might be progress because it is going to relocate the controversy from Congress to the courts and we can reopen the government,” he added.