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US shutdown breaks all-time record

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By Michael Daventry
US shutdown breaks all-time record
Copyright  Reuters

The US government shutdown is now officially the longest on record after 22 days elapsed without a funding agreement.

Around a quarter of the federal government remains out of operation, with 800,000 employees unpaid for more than three weeks.

Their first monthly salary payment was missed on Friday as a result of the shutdown, triggered by President Donald Trump's plans to use federal government funds for a wall on the United States's southern border with Mexico.

"The easy solution is for me to call a national emergency. I could do that very quickly," 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."

But the Democrats, who control the House of Representatives, are equally determined not to provide the money.

On Friday, the House voted 240-179 to restore funding for the Interior Department and the Environmental Protection Agency, two of the agencies that have been closed since December 22.

But the measures are unlikely to be approved by the Senate, which is controlled by Mr Trump's Republicans.

The shutdown is now the longest in US history, surpassing the 21-day closure that began during Bill Clinton's presidency in 1995.

Many furloughed federal employees have taken to the streets to protest their situation.

In Miami, an entire airport terminal will be closed this weekend because of a shortage of security workers.

They are classed as essential employees and required to work, but many are calling in sick to protest the situation.

There are also reports of food banks being set up to help those workers now struggling to pay their bills.

Volunteers rallied to pack bags of food, while some federal employees were seen selling their possessions using websites like eBay to raise funds for themselves.