Shutdown is longest in U.S. history; Congress leaves D.C.

Jan. 12 (UPI) — The partial government shutdown entered its 22nd day Saturday, making it the longest closure in U.S. history — a milestone most members of Congress observed on the way back to their home states for a week.

The shutdown surpassed the previous record closure of 21 days, which began Dec. 16, 1995, under the administration of President Bill Clinton. This is the third shutdown under President Donald Trump, though the others — two days starting Jan. 20 and one day on Feb. 9 — were much shorter.

And with Congress’ departure from Washington, D.C., for a week back in their home states, there doesn’t appear to be an end in sight for the shutdown.

The impasse centers around $ 5.7 billion Trump wants to fund a physical wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. The House and Senate passed a new stopgap funding bill without the wall money he sought by Dec. 21, but the president refused to sign the legislation.

The newly Democrat-controlled House is refusing to add the funding into its legislation. This week, it passed a series of bills funding individual departments and agencies of the government, including Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, Agriculture and Food and Drug Administration.

The Republican-controlled Senate was not expected to pass the legislation.

On Saturday, Trump called on Democrats to return to Washington, D.C., to solve the dispute and reopen the government.

“Democrats should come back to Washington and work to end the Shutdown, while at the same time ending the horrible humanitarian crisis at our Southern Border. I am in the White House waiting for you!” he tweeted.

The shutdown has left 800,000 federal employees on furlough or working without pay. They missed their first paychecks Friday and thousands began applying for unemployment. Trump promised to sign legislation passed by Congress to provide back pay to some 800,000 federal employees out of work because of the partial shutdown.

Meanwhile, the Trump administration this week agreed to keep funding food stamp benefits, but recipients will end up receiving next month’s funds by Jan. 20. That’s weeks earlier than normal, Politico reported.

Representatives from grocery retailers said they’re preparing for an unusually early onslaught of people using some $ 4.8 billion of benefits in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

“We don’t know of any time this has ever happened,” said Hannah Walker, senior director of technology and nutrition policy at the Food Marketing Institute.

Federal workers rally against shutdown

The Senate on Thursday passed a bill to ensure furloughed federal workers will get back pay as workers carried out demonstrations calling for an end to the shutdown. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

Members and supporters of the National Air Controllers Association and other aviation industry associations protest the partial federal government shutdown at the U.S. Capitol on Thursday. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

Trump and Congress were at a budget stalemate as Democrats refuse to provide Trump with the $ 5.7 billion funding request for a southern border wall. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Mass., speaks at a rally protesting the partial federal government shutdown. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

On Wednesday, Trump walked out of a meeting with lawmakers, calling it a “waste of time.” Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

Rep. Peter Defazio, D-Ore., speaks at the rally. He later tweeted, “A wall is not impenetrable. You can go under it, over it, around it, & through it. A wall won’t stop drugs or undocumented immigrants from coming into this country. We need smart investment in our nation’s border security — not a barrier doomed to fail.” Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

While federal employees show their disapproval of the shutdown, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell blocked two bills Thursday that were passed by the House last week to reopen the government. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., speaks to furloughed government workers and their supporters during a protest. He told the crowd, “I’m happy to stand here with you and my other colleagues in unity to tell President Trump ‘Stop holding America hostage with your politics.'” Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., told the crowd, “I want to thank all of you. Every federal employee who has gone to work or been furloughed and has done their job, even though this White House has not done their job.” Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

Members and supporters of the AFL-CIO labor union join the protest at the White House. Photo by Pat Benic/UPI | License Photo

The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, which organized the protest in front of the White House, is the largest federation of unions in the United States. Photo by Pat Benic/UPI | License Photo

The Federal Aviation Administration closed its training academy in Oklahoma City because of the shutdown, which has slowed down training and placed recent graduates on furlough. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

The Food and Drug Administration has stopped performing most domestic food inspections during the partial government shutdown. Without a deal to reopen the government, the regulatory agency will have to force furloughed workers to come back without pay. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

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