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'I just don't see a pathway forward'

Updated 9:49 PM ET, Thu January 10, 2019

(CNN) - On this, the 20th day of the partial government shutdown, all hope was lost.

At least for Republican South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham. Graham is a surprisingly strong ally of President Donald Trump, but also someone with a demonstrated track record of working across the aisle.

"I see no way forward," Graham told CNN's Sarah Mucha Thursday afternoon after the collapse of the skeleton of a deal he was working on with a handful of other GOP senators. "I was hopeful last night, not hopeful today." 

Graham's public frustration -- and dejection -- was a common theme on Capitol Hill on Thursday. With less than 24 hours remaining before this shutdown eclipses the 1995-1996 shutdown as the longest in modern political history, it appears as though the two sides were further away than at any point since the government closed its doors late last year.

Trump spent the day blasting away at Democrats' alleged recalcitrance and hinting strongly that he planned to declare the US southern border a national emergency if no compromise with Democrats could be reached. He did all this while traveling to Texas for a visit at the border that he himself had told reporters off-the-record would do no good earlier in the week.

Later Thursday, Graham said Trump should just go around Democrats to fund his wall. "It is time for President Trump to use emergency powers to fund the construction of a border wall/barrier," Graham said in a statement.

Democrats, on the other hand, held fast to their consistent position: Trump should agree to reopen the government -- and then they would talk about border security. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has been adamant throughout this shutdown that Democrats will listen to no proposal that includes money for a border wall.

Which leaves us, well, absolutely nowhere. And with no votes expected in the Senate Friday, there won't even be the possibility of any real movement until next Tuesday or so. 

"This is like a circus," Republican Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby told CNN on Wednesday. So say we all.

The Point: Settle in. This shutdown might be measured in months, not weeks.


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