The partial shutdown of the US government has become the longest in the country’s history, having entered its 22nd day with no end in sight.
On Saturday, it overtook the previous record – a 21-day shutdown in 1995/96 under President Bill Clinton.
Approximately 25 per cent of the federal government is closed until a spending plan is agreed between President Trump, Republicans and the Democrats, with 800,000 government workers going unpaid.
Trump is demanding $5.7 billion in taxpayer money to construct a border wall along the southern border with Mexico to address a ‘crisis’ with illegal immigration. Building a border wall was a key policy in Trump’s presidential campaign, calling for Mexico to pay for its construction.
However, Democrats have refused the proposal, arguing that a wall is not the answer to border security and would be a waste of public money. Instead, they have offered to allow $1.6 billion to be allocated for border security, but none dedicated for the construction of the wall.
Since the shutdown started on December 21st, it has cost the US economy almost $4 billion in economic losses. If it continues until the end of the month, experts claim that the economic impact will be greater than the cost of the border wall itself.
President Trump, who previously said he would be proud to shutdown the government, has threatened that the impasse could last for ‘months or even years’.
Government shutdowns take place when Congress and the President haven’t passed legislation that tells the Treasury to fund the operations of different federal agencies over time. A funding gap occurs when that happens and the affected agencies either reduce their activities or shut down altogether.
Employees for these departments are ‘furloughed’ – sent home without pay until an agreement to reopen the affected parts of government are reached. However, employees that are deemed vital for protecting safety of the public or property are deemed ‘essential’, meaning that they must work without pay during a shutdown.
It seems like there is no end in sight to the situation, but President Trump has threatened to invoke a national emergency to allow him to get the funding to build a wall without approval from Congress. Such a move would face several legal obstacles and it is unclear whether the President has the authority to do this.