WASHINGTON – The partial government shutdown is now the longest in American history.
The shutdown entered its 22nd day on Saturday, surpassing the previous 21-day record set in late 1995 and early 1996 during the Clinton administration.
Nine federal departments and several smaller agencies – one-fourth of the federal government – remain closed as the standoff barrels into its fourth week with no end in sight.
Members of the House and the Senate both went home to their districts on Friday and won’t return until Monday, guaranteeing that parts of the government will remain closed at least through early next week.
Here's what to know about the situation.
When will it end?
Hard to say.
President Donald Trump is threatening to declare a national emergency so he can access federal funds to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. That would allow the government to reopen since the shutdown stems from a budget battle between the White House and congressional Democrats over border wall funding.
But exactly when Trump might invoke an emergency isn’t clear.
Trump suggested during a trip to the border in Texas on Thursday that an emergency declaration could come at any time if negotiations with Democrats fail to yield a deal on his demand for $5.7 billion in border wall funding.
But Trump played down the prospects of an imminent emergency declaration on Friday, saying he wasn't "going to do it so fast."
A sign that he’s serious about declaring an emergency: The Pentagon is already preparing options to build barriers along the southern border if Trump does declare a national emergency there. An emergency declaration would allow the Army Corps of Engineers to design barriers and allow contracts to build them.
An emergency declaration by Trump would be certain to face legal challenges that could drag on for years. But it would give the president an exit strategy from the budget impasse and end the government shutdown.