Trump's shutdown becomes longest in US history

The US government shutdown has become the longest in history and the president is showing no sign of giving in.

The shutdown began on 22 December and has now entered its 22nd day, making it longer than the shutdown of 1995-96, which saw then president Bill Clinton clash with Republicans over health, education and other spending.

Donald Trump’s shutdown has affected the work of nine cabinet departments and various smaller agencies and left 800,000 workers without pay.

US President Donald Trump and others listen to a prayer during a meeting about border security in the Cabinet Room of the White House January 11, 2019 in Washington, DC
Image: Donald Trump held a meeting on Friday to discuss the situation

It stems from Mr Trump’s determination to build a wall on the US border with Mexico and his fight with reluctant Democrats for the $ 5.6bn (£4bn) required.

He previously said he would be “proud” to force a shutdown if Democrats, who control the House of Representatives, did not agree to fund the wall and has also threatened to declare a national emergency to overrule them.

The Smithsonian National Zoo is closed because of the shutdown
Image: Many tourist attractions are closed due to the shutdown

Union workers demonstrate against the government shutdown
Image: Workers are suffering, with many working without pay

Talks between the two parties have failed to end the deadlock.

On Wednesday Mr Trump reportedly stormed out of a meeting with House speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer which he later dismissed as a “total waste of time”.

Ms Pelosi and Mr Schumer insisted they are in favour of border security, but that Mr Trump had walked out because “he could not get his way”.

Earlier in the week, representatives of affected workers pleaded for the shutdown to end.

Eric Young, speaking on behalf of prison workers, said they had to “live pay check to paycheck” earning between “$ 500 to $ 700 a month”.

He added: “We are the people of this shutdown. End this shutdown. If something happens to any of our professionals behind this distraction, blood will be on your hands.

“Stop playing chicken with our lives.”

A representative of employees in the department of housing and urban development said workers were losing their childcare places because they could not pay, and were at risk of missing mortgage payments.

She warned that building inspections were not being carried out – and that if there were problems with any housing developments, there was no one at the department to call.

The national president of the American Federation of Government Employees, J David Cox, said: “We don’t just oppose this because we aren’t getting paid, but that would be reason enough.

“We oppose being held hostage, we oppose being collateral damage, we oppose the use of extortion instead of reasoned debate.”

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