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President Trump addresses reporters in the cabinet room and attempts to place blame for shutdown on Democrats in Congress (photo: Politico)

By: Nate Morris, senior editor

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Monday, January 14th will mark the beginning of the fourth week in which hundreds of thousands of federal workers and contractors have been forced to either stay home or work without pay as the longest and costliest government shutdown in United States history continues with no end in sight.

On Friday, January 11th, people across the nation watched helplessly as their paycheck failed to arrive, while national leaders continue to squabble over $5 Billion in funding for Trump’s desired border wall.

“We have a massive Humanitarian Crisis on our Southern Border,” Trump said Saturday in another grammatically incorrect tweet to the nation, “We will be out for a long time unless Democrats come back from their “vacation”.”

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Trump tweets about the shutdown on January 12

It was initially unclear what the president was referring to by “vacation” as neither Democrats nor Republicans in the House or Senate are at work in their congressional offices over the weekend.

For their part, on January 4th, Democrats passed a spending package, including over $1 Billion for additional border security, which mirrored a bi-partisan bill passed by the Senate at the end of 2018.  However, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) refused to bring the bill to a vote in the Senate, stopping its progress.

Lindsay Graham, Republican Senator from South Carolina, also appealed to the president, asking that he consider a three-week funding deal which would allow the government to reopen and continue negotiations on the border wall.  Trump, as of now, has yet to agree to the idea.

As the shutdown continues, pressure is mounting for political leaders to find a solution – quickly.  Essential services, such as the IRS, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of the Interior and the Transportation Security Administration remain shutdown or unfunded as the issue creeps toward a “crisis” level, according to officials like Jeh Johnson, DHS Secretary under President Obama.

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Graphic depicting cost of shutdown (Vox)

According to research from Vox, within a week, the shutdown is expected to have cost the country as much, if not more, than the $5.7 Billion Trump is demanding for his border wall.

In Miami, as TSA officers who are not receiving paychecks continue to call out sick, one of the terminals at the city’s major airport has been forced to start operating at a reduced capacity.

In Oklahoma, nearly 8,000 federal workers continue to live on the cusp of financial disaster as they rapidly close in on a full month without pay.

With new polls continuing to show Americans heaping blame for the shutdown on President Trump and Congressional Republicans (53% blame them, 29% blame Democrats, 13% blame both sides equally), continuing the shutdown seems to be an increasingly untenable political solution as a weary nation enters day 24.

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