President Donald Trump likes to boast about his achievements. Biggest, best, smartest are all words he regularly trots out to describe himself and his administration. He now has another one to add to the list: longest. As of Saturday, the partial government shutdown entered its 22nd day and officially broke the record as the longest government shutdown in U.S. history. The previous record took place during Bill Clinton’s administration, when an impasse with the Republican-led Congress and then-Speaker Newt Gingrich sparked a shutdown that began on Dec. 15, 1995 and lasted into the first few days of 1996.
There is still no end in sight to this shutdown. That means the estimated 800,000 federal workers who have been affected will continue to either have to work without pay or be furloughed. Trump has made it clear he won’t end the shutdown without funding for his border wall, or barrier as he has taken to calling it lately, while Democratic congressional leaders say they won’t discuss border security until the government is reopened. And, regardless, the wall is off the table for them. While the Democratic-led House of Representatives has passed bills to temporarily fund the government and get it reopened, the GOP-led Senate has refused to take them on. Congress did manage to pass a bill Friday to guarantee that federal workers will get back pay, which Trump has vowed to sign.
Trump has raised the possibility of declaring a national emergency to build the wall, but he seemed to back off that threat Friday, at least for a bit. “What we’re not looking to do right now is national emergency,” Trump said Friday. “I’m not going to do it so fast.” Although Trump insists he has the right to act unilaterally through an emergency declaration, he says lawmakers need to get the government reopened. But, of course, Trump isn’t exactly known for sticking by his declarations so it’s “unclear whether his stance Friday would hold or for how long,” as the Washington Post puts it.
On Saturday, Trump took to Twitter to tell Democrats to “come back to Washington and work to end the Shutdown.” The president said he was “in the White House waiting for you!” He then urged supporters to give him a hand. “Democrats could solve the Shutdown in 15 minutes! Call your Dem Senator or Congresswoman/man,” Trump wrote. “Tell them to get it done! Humanitarian Crisis.”