US government shutdown breaks record as eyes remain on Trump

US President Donald Trump speaks during a roundtable discussion on border security at the White House. (Zach Gibson/Bloomberg/Getty Images)

US President Donald Trump speaks during a roundtable discussion on border security at the White House. (Zach Gibson/Bloomberg/Getty Images)

The United States government shutdown reached a record 24 days on Monday – making this shutdown the longest in US history.

This government shutdown has broken the record previously held by the shutdown in 1995-1996 which went on for 21 days under then President Bill Clinton.

This partial shutdown, which began on December 22 last year, is over President Donald Trump’s demand for $5.7-billion to go towards building a border wall between the US and Mexico, which the Democratic Party steadfastly refused to finance.

The record impasse has brought Washington to a standstill with Trump refusing to sign off on budgets for government departments, including those that are not taking part in the shutdown until his request is approved. This has led to 800 000 federal employees not being paid last week.

During his campaign for the presidency, Trump pledged to build a wall along the Mexico border to stem the flow of illegal migrants and which he calls a humanitarian crisis.

On Saturday, Trump tweeted that a longer impasse should be expected as he put the blame on the Democrats.

“We will be out for a long time unless the Democrats come back from their ‘vacations’ and get back to work,” he tweeted.

In a televised address, Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer demanded that Trump end the shutdown which they say he started as a “temper tantrum”. Trump declared the shutdown when he refused to sign bipartisan funding legislation in 2018 which did not include funding for Mexico.

“Trump must stop holding the American people hostage, stop manufacturing a crisis and reopen the government,” Pelosi said.

Since the shutdown began, Democrats have passed Bills in the House of Representatives to allow the government to reopen without providing Trump with funding but these Bills have been ignored by the Republican-controlled Senate.

At this point in the impasse, Trump has threatened to declare a national emergency but says he will hold off for a while to allow Congress to make the right decision.

Trump told Fox News that he has “the absolute right to declare a national emergency” but that he wants Congress to “act responsibly.”

Mashadi Kekana