Three weeks, zero progress. Congress adjourned for the weekend without any movement toward a negotiated resolution to the partial government shutdown, which is now guaranteed to become the longest in history, surpassing the 21-day closure that started in December 1995.
And the White House appears to be preparing for the shutdown to drag on for weeks longer.
Presidential aides preparing for Trump’s State of the Union address on January 29 are drafting some sections under the assumption that the shutdown won’t be resolved by then, The Wall Street Journal reports. And the White House Office of Management and Budget is preparing for the shutdown to continue through February.
Trump indicated Thursday that he might expect the shutdown to last awhile, tweeting that he’ll skip a planned trip to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland because of the shutdown. The president had been scheduled to leave for Davos on January 21.
As the shutdown stretches into record territory with no sign of serious talks to end it, the pain inflicted is becoming increasingly evident:
- Some 800,000 federal workers missed their first paycheck since the shutdown began on December 22. The lost pay for federal workers totals $2 billion every two weeks, according to calculations by the Center for American Progress.
- Thousands of federal workers are beginning to file for unemployment benefits and take out loans or look for second jobs.
- The shutdown has trimmed about $3.6 billion from the roughly $19 trillion U.S. economy through three weeks, according to estimates by S&P Global Ratings. If the shutdown lasts a couple more weeks, it will have cost the economy more than the $5.7 billion Trump has demanded in wall funding.
Meanwhile, President Trump continued to press his case for building a wall, tweeting that “our Country cannot be safe” without it. Unmoved, Democrats continue to argue that the wall would be ineffective and a waste of money — and that Trump has failed to bring anything to the table. “His version of a negotiation is, ‘Do everything I want,’” House Speaker Nany Pelosi said, according to The Washington Post.
Trump Says He Won’t Declare National Emergency ‘Right Now’
With both sides dug in, speculation continued about whether Trump will declare a national emergency, directing the military to build his wall without congressional approval. Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), a Trump ally and leader of the right-wing House Freedom Caucus, on Thursday called such a declaration “inevitable”. He said he expected Trump would make that move in a matter of “days, not weeks,” according to the Post.
But Trump on Friday afternoon backed off his recent threats to declare an emergency. "What we're not looking to do right now is national emergency," he said at a White House event. “I’m not going to do it so fast.”
White House officials reportedly have been considering diverting unused money from the Army Corps of Engineers budget — specifically, $13.9 billion in emergency hurricane and wildfire relief funds allocated last year for use in Puerto Rico, Florida, Texas and California — and from the military construction budget.
But as the idea of a national emergency declaration began to build momentum, Republicans and conservatives have pushed back sharply, warning that, even if it could be used to fund wall construction, it could set a dangerous precedent — one that a future Democratic president could use to push liberal priorities on, say, climate change or health care.