Government shutdown now longest in US history

The partial government shutdown in the United States has entered its 22nd day, making it the longest ever in US history.

There has been no sign of a breakthrough to end the stalemate, which has caused the closure of museums and parks and meant hundreds of thousands of US government employees are staying home or working without pay.

Senators and congressmen left Washington for the weekend. There were no indications when Republicans and Democrats are likely to meet again with President Donald Trump to discuss a way out of the crisis.

Friday (local time) was the first day without pay for many of the employees.

By extending into Saturday, it is now longer than the 1995-96 shutdown, formerly the longest in the nation's history.

Both shutdowns began over government spending. The current shutdown is centred on US$5.7 billion that Mr Trump wants Congress to approve for building a wall on the US-Mexico border.

Mr Trump says it's necessary for national security, while Democrats refuse to fund it, slamming the proposed barrier as ineffective and a waste of tax dollars.

With no negotiations scheduled, the possibility of a declaration of a national emergency, which would give Mr Trump a way to circumvent Democrats in Congress, remained in play.

Mr Trump said on Thursday (local time) he was "not prepared to do that yet" but also said he would if he didn't get results through negotiations.

Top Republican lawmaker Senator Lindsey Graham, a Trump ally who has been negotiating with Democrats, threw his support behind the idea on Thursday.

The controversial move would face legal challenges as experts and Democratic lawmakers say the situation on the US-Mexico border does not constitute a national emergency.


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