Government shutdown set to be the longest in history, with no deal in sight

The current shutdown will break the 1995-1996 record of 21 days.

The current partial government shutdown looks set to be the longest in history. CREDIT: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
The current partial government shutdown looks set to be the longest in history. CREDIT: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The partial government shutdown has officially stretched into its 21st day, and come midnight, it will officially be the longest ever, beating a 21-day shutdown from December 1995 through January 1996.

According to an NPR poll released Friday, three-quarters of Americans say the shutdown is “embarrassing” for the country, including a majority of Republicans. Seven in 10 also say they believe the shutdown is going to hurt the country and the economy and that Congress should pass a bill to reopen the government now while budget talks continue, according to the poll.

Friday was supposed to be payday for federal employees, but nearly 800,000 are working without pay or have been furloughed without pay. Employees are missing out on $2 billion worth of paychecks every two weeks the shutdown continues.

Additionally, as The New York Times reported Wednesday, the FDA has stopped routine food inspections of seafood, fruits, and vegetables, and many people who rely on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to feed their families could be looking at a cut in benefits if the shutdown continues into next month.


Many employees have also begun filing unemployment claims or considered taking out loans to cover their monthly expenses. Some, such as one TSA employee who spoke to ThinkProgress last month, have said they may have to cancel future travel plans to attend things like family members’ funerals, while others have begun turning to food banks for assistance in making ends meet.

Survivors of domestic violence could be affected next. According to a Politico report Friday, shelters across the country that rely on Department of Justice funding have begun warning that they can only process funding requests through January 18, Friday of next week. Some employees have reportedly been buying supplies with their own money, despite not knowing whether they will receive their next paycheck.

There have also been reports of damage in national parks across the country, a big difference from previous shutdowns, as many National Park Service sites remain open but without adequate staffing. In Joshua Tree, the protected trees have been cut down and the park has been vandalized. In many national park sites, toilets and garbage cans are overflowing, visitors are driving and hiking where they shouldn’t be and “getting into altercations over campsites and parking sites,” according to the National Parks Conservation Association.

President Donald Trump has said that the shutdown could last for “months or even years,” as he refuses to budge on his ask for $5 billion in funding for a wall on the southern border. With no end in sight and Congress gone for the weekend, the current partial government shutdown is guaranteed to be the longest in history.

The previous record, a shutdown that lasted from December 15, 1995 through January 6, 1996, forced many tour groups to cancel their trips, as museums and monuments in Washington, D.C. were closed. According to a Washington Post report, taxis in the area drove without passengers for hours, hotels and restaurants were forced to cut staff, and more than 1,600 hospitality workers were laid off outside of Yosemite.


Then, as Congress and the White House finally reached a deal in January of 1996, a major snow storm hit the district, further frustrating the already exhausted non-state. According to the Post, therapists reported an increase in calls, mostly from federal employees, and a man in the area used a hose to freeze someone else’s car in a case of ice when he discovered someone had stolen the parking spot he shoveled for himself. Another man reportedly punched a clerk at a video store for not having a copy of The Brady Bunch.

With snow forecasted again this weekend for the D.C. area, it looks like things could get dicey, some 23 years later — the major difference being this time, there isn’t even a deal on the table.