Thousands of federal workers missed their first pay cheque of the year on Friday as the US government shutdown neared an ignominious record for the longest in the nation’s history.
More than 800,000 public sector staff are either furloughed or have been working without any guarantee of pay since the current impasse began on 22 December.
Donald Trump had threatened to declare a national emergency to bypass congress and force through the spending plan at the centre of the dispute, which includes $5.7bn (£4.5bn) funding for the president’s controversial border wall contested by Democrats. But on Friday, the president said he would not declare on "right now".
The government shutdown will become the longest in US history on Saturday, surpassing the 21-day deadlock seen between December 1995 and January 1996 during Bill Clinton’s presidency.
“The easy solution is for me to call a national emergency. I could do that very quickly,” Mr Trump said during a White House event on border security. “I have the absolute right to do it. But I'm not going to do it so fast. Because this is something Congress should do.”
Mr Trump spoke after legislators had left Washington for the weekend, precluding any possible action until next week.
House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi said President Trump needs to make the next move to end the impasses.
“When the president acts, we will respond to whatever he does,” Ms Pelosi told reporters at a ceremonial event following congressional passage of legislation guaranteeing that federal employees will receive back pay once government agencies reopen.
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