WASHINGTON, January 12, 2019 — President Donald Trump can now boast of having bested one of President Bill Clinton’s accomplishments: Presiding over the longest government shutdown in U.S. history.
The Trump shutdown, a partial shutdown of those agencies unfunded by appropriations bill and which began at midnight on December 22, 2018, originated when Trump upended a bipartisan funding deal.
At its core, Trump was angered by a lack of funding for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
On Saturday the shutdown entered its 22nd day, passing the mark set in 1995-1996, during a 21-day spat between then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich and President Bill Clinton.
With no meetings or negotiations between administration officials and congressional staff scheduled for the weekend – and with Trump continuing to demand wall funding that Democrats say they won’t give it to him – there appears to be no end in sight for the roughly 800,000 federal workers who’ve been furloughed or forced to work without pay.
Trump had apparently been willing to agree to a deal to keep the government open, but changed course after being criticized in conservative media.
Despite the lack of planned negotiations, Trump took to his Twitter account on Saturday to suggest that House and Senate Democrats “could solve the shutdown in 15 minutes” and implored them to return to Washington and end the shutdown,
He has cast blame on Democrats for the continued lapse in appropriations, This past week, the Democratic-led House passed the same GOP-authored bills the Senate approved by voice vote in December.
Although a growing number of Senate Republicans have expressed support for ending the shutdown by approving the bills sent over from the House, their desires have been stymied by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s insistence that any spending bill brought to the floor must have Trump’s support.
The majority leader has been absent from press conferences following the negotiating sessions that have taken place since the shutdown began. For example, when congressional leaders gathered at the White House for an aborted attempt at talks on Wednesday, the task of representing Senate Republicans fell to South Dakota’s John Thune, the GOP Whip and McConnell’s second-in-command.
Trump, who spent Thursday and Friday at public events meant to convey the existence of an illegal immigration crisis on the southern border, spent Saturday at the White House.
The president also took time out of his day to tweet his reaction to a front-page story in The New York Times, which reported that the Federal Bureau of Investigation had opened an investigation into whether he was working against American interests when he fired former FBI director James Comey.
“Wow, just learned in the Failing New York Times that the corrupt former leaders of the FBI, almost all fired or forced to leave the agency for some very bad reasons, opened up an investigation on me, for no reason & with no proof, after I fired Lyin’ James Comey, a total sleaze!” Trump tweeted shortly after 7:00 a.m. Saturday.
The president, who has frequently been criticized for policy decisions that align closely with the preferred positions of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s government, also repeated his frequent claim that he has been “far tougher” on Russia than any of his three most recent predecessors.