Shutdown set to break record as Congress leaves town
The partial government shutdown is set to become the longest funding lapse in modern history after Congress left town on Friday for the week.
The Senate wrapped up its work for the week after 1 p.m., staying in session on Friday for more than three hours though no votes occurred and after most lawmakers already left town.
The House also adjourned shortly before 2:30 p.m. Friday until Monday. The chamber had wrapped up its votes for the week earlier Friday, including sending to President Trump a bill guaranteeing back pay for federal workers missing paychecks as a result of the partial government shutdown.
The current shutdown tied the 21-day record from the Clinton administration on Friday. With no deal expected, and Congress leaving town, it will break the record on Saturday.
The decision for Congress to leave town comes as Trump and congressional leadership remain far apart on funding for the U.S.-Mexico border wall, and negotiations have largely hit a dead end. Trump is demanding more than $5 billion for the wall. Congressional Democrats have pointed to $1.3 billion as their cap, and stress it be used on fencing instead of a concrete border wall.
Trump is flirting with declaring an emergency declaration to build the wall, though he’s getting fierce pushback from Senate Republicans and House conservatives who believe it will get bogged down in court and worry about the precedent it will set for a future Democratic president.
Friday marks an escalation from the fallout of the partial shutdown, which is impacting roughly a quarter of the government and forcing approximately 800,000 federal employees to be furloughed or work without pay.
Federal workers missed their first payback on Friday. Most federal workers received the bulk of their last paycheck in late December because it covered all but one day of the two-week pay period that preceded the lapse in government funding.
Senators, speaking from the floor on Friday, hoped that the growing fallout for federal employees and the record-breaking aspect of the shutdown could spark new progress in the negotiations after lawmakers return next week.
Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) gave a speech on the Senate floor after returning from an event with Virginia constituents with copies of pay stubs where federal employees were given checks that gave them no money or, in one case, a penny.
“I just hope that as people are back home this weekend and they hear similar stories, they’ll realize that immigration reform and border security are really important … but there’s no reason to keep government shut down, sending out paybacks for one cent, inflicting all these various harms on folks while we figure that out,” Kaine said.