WASHINGTON – Congressional Democrats will take another stab at reopening shuttered federal agencies this week and President Donald Trump will take his case for a border wall directly to the American people as the partial government shutdown stretches into one of the longest in history.
House Democrats, flexing their political muscle as the new majority, are planning to pass several individual bills this week to fund departments and agencies that have been closed since the shutdown started in late December. They plan to start with Treasury Department so that tax refunds for Americans won’t be delayed.
But the shutdown, now in its third week, is almost certain to go on through the remainder of this week and possibly longer.
Democrats are hoping that passing the bills will put more pressure on Trump and the GOP to end the budget standoff. But Republicans still control the Senate and have no plans to vote on the spending bills, meaning they are likely dead on arrival.
Trump, meanwhile, is planning his own offensive, starting with a prime-time television address Tuesday night on what he called the crisis at the nation’s border. The speech, which begins at 9 p.m. EST and will be Trump’s first from the Oval Office, will give him a chance to lay out his case on an issue that has led to the shutdown.
Trump also plans to visit the U.S.-Mexico border Thursday to promote his plan for an anti-migration border wall, which remains the sticking point in negotiations with Democrats to reopen the government.
Trump will “meet with those on the front lines of the national security and humanitarian crisis” at the border, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders posted on Twitter. “More details will be announced soon.”
Trump, who first floated the idea of traveling to the border during a surprise visit to Iraq the day after Christmas, has been pressing lawmakers for $5.6 billion for the border wall, triggering the budget standoff that resulted in one-quarter of the federal government closing its doors Dec. 22.
With no end in sight, the shutdown is on course to become the longest on record.
Tuesday marks the 18th day of the shutdown, tying the record for the second-longest ever. If the shutdown is still in effect at 12:01 a.m. Saturday, it will become the longest shutdown on record. The previous record was a 21-day shutdown in 1995 and 1996.
Here’s a closer look at the four longest government shutdowns, not including the current one, why they happened and the fallout from each.
Clinton vs. Gingrich
Duration: 21 days, began Dec. 5, 1995, ended Jan. 6, 1996
What happened: This titanic political battle between Democratic President Bill Clinton and Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich holds the record for the longest shutdown.
It was the second standoff between the two, both over taxes, and came just a month after a five-day shutdown from Nov. 13-19. 2015.
Gingrich and other congressional Republicans wanted to reduce spending. Clinton refused to make the cuts they wanted. Gingrich then refused to raise the debt limit. The shutdown ended when the two sides agreed to a seven-year budget plan with some spending cuts and tax increases.
Polls gave Clinton the nod in this duel. His approval ratings rose and he was elected to a second term that fall. Many criticized Gingrich for his behavior during this time, especially when he complained about being forced to exit Air Force One from the back of the plane.
Carter vs. Congress
Duration: 18 days, began Sept. 30, 1978, ended Oct. 18, 1978.
What happened: Democratic President Jimmy Carter found himself at odds with Congress even though Democrats controlled both the House and Senate. Carter vetoed a defense bill that included funding for a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier and public works legislation that included funding for water projects.
He saw these projects as wasteful spending. More critically, funding for the Department of Health, Education and Welfare was delayed because of a dispute involving Medicaid funding for abortion.
Carter succeeded in getting the projects he opposed stripped from legislation and the House and Senate passed a bill that expanded the exceptions to the Medicaid abortion ban to include rape and incest.
Obamacare or bust
Duration: 16 days, began Oct. 1, 2013, ended Oct. 17, 2013
What happened: Republicans in Congress sought to delay or defund the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, after failing in their efforts at outright repeal. They attempted to force President Barack Obama’s hand by approving a temporary measure that would fund the government but would cut funding to implement Obamacare.
The Senate, controlled by Democrats, rejected the plan. The resulting impasse shut down the government. The standoff ended when Republicans conceded defeat and a deal was worked out to reopen the government. Polls showed that Republicans took the brunt of the blame.
Duration: 12 days, began Sept. 30, 1977, ended Oct. 13, 1977.
What happened: This was the period when Democrats controlled both Houses of Congress and the White House. Still, the House and Senate could not agree on the exceptions to the ban on Medicaid funding for abortions.
House Democrats wanted to continue a ban on using Medicaid to pay for abortions, except in cases when the mother’s life was in jeopardy. Senate Democrats wanted funding to be allowed in cases of rape or incest.
The shutdown ended when a short-term funding bill was passed that allowed for more time for the two sides to negotiate. Republicans ended up benefiting politically because it was an intraparty fight among Democrats that had shuttered government.
More: White House official says ‘tax refunds will go out’ during partial government shutdown
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