US shutdown becomes longest on record

Published: 12 Jan 2019   

Online Desk

The partial shutdown of the US government has become the longest on record, with still no end in sight to the political standoff.

On Saturday it reaches its 22nd day, overtaking the previous record - the 21-day shutdown in 1995-96 under then-President Bill Clinton.

President Donald Trump is refusing to approve a budget unless it includes funds for a wall on the Mexican border.

Democrats have rejected his request for $5.7bn (£4.5bn), BBC reports.

About a quarter of the federal government is still out of operation until a spending plan is agreed, leaving 800,000 employees unpaid.

On Friday, those workers - including prison guards, airport staff and FBI agents - missed their first salaries of the year.

Meanwhile, President Trump has calmed speculation that he is about to declare a national emergency in order to bypass Congress and get the money he needs. His proposed border wall was a key election pledge.

He described an emergency declaration as an "easy way out" and said he would prefer Congress to resolve the problem.

But he added: "If they can't do it... I will declare a national emergency. I have the absolute right."

Correspondents say Democrats would mount an immediate legal challenge if Mr Trump made such a move.

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