The partial US government shutdown entered a record 22nd day Saturday, as it on midnight Friday (0500 GMT Saturday), overtook the 21-day stretch in 1995-1996, under President Bill Clinton.
The impasse between the Executive and Legislature has no end in sight as President Donald Trump remains steadfast in his demand for $5.7 billion to build a Mexico border wall and Democrats in Congress determined to refuse the funds.
The impasse has paralyzed government business in the United States with Trump retaliating by refusing to sign off on budgets for many government departments unrelated to the dispute. This has resulted in over 800,000 federal employees, in diverse departments of government, including FBI agents, air traffic controllers and other workers, not receiving their paychecks Friday.
However, Trump on Friday, did not carried out his earlier threat to end the deadlock by declaring a national emergency and attempting to secure the funds without congressional approval. Describing an emergency declaration as the “easy way out,” Trump had said Congress had to step up to the responsibility of approving the $5.7 billion.
“If they can’t do it… I will declare a national emergency. I have the absolute right,” he said.
Until now, Trump had suggested numerous times that he was getting closer to taking the controversial decision.
Only minutes earlier, powerful Republican ally Senator Lindsey Graham tweeted after talks with Trump: “Mr. President, Declare a national emergency NOW.”
But Trump himself acknowledged that an attempt to claim emergency powers would likely end up in a long-drawn legal battles that might likely end up at the Supreme Court.
Opponents say that a unilateral presidential move
would be constitutional overreach and set a dangerous precedent in similar controversies.
The standoff has turned into a test of political ego, between Trump, who came into office by making an aggressive border policy the keystone of his nationalist agenda, and Democrats, who seem determined at all costs to prevent him from getting a win on the issue.
However, both Democrats and Republicans agree that the US-Mexican border presents major challenges, including the violent Mexican drug trade, the desperate asylum seekers and the poor economic migrants seeking new lives in the world’s richest country.
But critics say Trump has turned his single-minded push for more walls into a political crusade, which his opponents say is a stunt to stoke xenophobia in his right-wing voter base, while wilfully ignoring the border’s complex realities.
Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leader in the House of Representatives, said money should be spent on border security but not on walls.
“We need to look at the facts,” she said.