The longest-ever shutdown of the federal government lasted 21 days.
To hear President Donald Trump talk on Friday afternoon, that record—set at around this time 23 years ago, during the Clinton administration—could soon be demolished. During a two-hour meeting that both parties acknowledged was contentious, the president told Democratic leaders that the current partial shutdown of federal departments and agencies could stretch on for “months or even years” if they do not yield on funding for his southern-border wall, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told reporters.
Trump confirmed making the threat—“I absolutely said it,” he boasted—during his own, much lengthier press conference about an hour later, digging in on the border impasse even as he directed Vice President Mike Pence to lead talks with a team of congressional negotiators over the weekend. “I don’t think it will, but I am prepared,” Trump said in the Rose Garden outside the White House, where he was flanked by Pence, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, and the top two Republicans in the House.
The White House meeting, followed by the dueling press conferences, seemed to be more spectacle than substance: The stalemate that shut down the government on December 22 seems no closer to a resolution, and the two parties appear to have made no discernible progress despite hours of in-person, high-level talks and a transfer of power to Democrats in the House. Schumer and Speaker Nancy Pelosi offered little hope for a quick agreement during their brief appearance before reporters.