President Trump and congressional Democrats have reached on a short-term funding deal to reopen the government, temporarily ending the partial government shutdown that dragged on for 35 days as the debate over border security continues.
“I am very proud to announce today that we have reached a deal to end the shutdown and reopen the federal government,” Trump said in remarks from the Rose Garden of the White House Friday afternoon. “As everyone knows, I have a very powerful alternative, but I didn’t want to use it at this time. Hopefully it will be unnecessary.”
As part of reopening the government after 35 days, the longest in government shutdown history, Trump promised that federal workers will receive back pay “as soon as possible.” About 800,000 federal workers were impacted by the shutdown, missing their second paycheck as major airports on Friday began experiencing major delays across the country.
“I will make sure that all employees receive their back pay very quickly, or as soon as possible. It’ll happen fast,” Trump said. “I am asking Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to put this proposal on the floor immediately.”
During the month long shutdown that began on December 22, both sides saw heated rhetoric with Trump canceling House Speaker Nancy Pelosi congressional trip after she called on the president to delay the State of the Union address that was scheduled for January 29. On Thursday night, Trump tweeted that he would delay the State of the Union address until the shutdown was over. However, with the government temporarily reopened, the annual address could still take place next Tuesday as scheduled.
According to a Trump official, conversations about ending the shutdown occurred Thursday evening after the Senate rejected two proposals that included $5.7 billion for the wall and would have reopened the government through February 8. In the meeting, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer pitched McConnell on passing a three-week CR with an agreement that Congress would go to conference on the DHS bill.
The short-term measure will fund the government through February 15, but doesn’t include any funding for a border wall. The continuing resolution (CR), which contains seven temporary funding bills for the remaining departments that have not yet been funded for 2019, as well as back-pay provision for furloughed employees.
However, the president said during the three week period would be used to negotiate a plan to secure his $5.7 Billion border wall funding from lawmakers. A bipartisan committee consisting of House and Senate lawmakers will also be meeting to develop a funding proposal for border security.
“After 36 days of spirited debate and dialogue, I have seen and heard from enough Democrats and Republicans that they are willing to put partisanship aside and put the security of the American people first,” Trump said. “A bipartisan Conference Committee of House and Senate lawmakers and leaders will immediately begin reviewing the requests of our Homeland Security experts and experts they are and also law enforcement professionals, who have worked with us so closely. Based on operational guidance from the experts in the field, they will put together a Homeland Security package for me to shortly sign into law.”
If a “fair deal” isn’t reached before February 15, Trump warned of another government shutdown or he would use the “powers afforded” under the laws to address this emergency.
“If we don’t get a fair deal from Congress, the government will either shut down on February 15th, again, or I will use the powers afforded to me under the laws and the Constitution of the United States to address this emergency,” Trump said. “As Commander-in-Chief, my highest priority is the defense of our great country. We cannot protect and deliver these blessings without a strong and secure border.”
Trump told reporters after the announcement that he has “other alternatives” and may declare a national emergency to circumvent Congress if he can’t work with the Democrats and “negotiate.”
“We’ll work with the Democrats and negotiate, and if we can’t do that, then we’ll do a – obviously we’ll do the emergency because that’s what it is. It’s a national emergency,” Trump said. “I have other alternatives if I have to. And I’ll use those alternatives if I have to. But we want to go through the system. We have to have a wall in this country.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell quickly endorsed the short-term plan on Friday, saying the plan will provide “room to negotiate a funding bill for the Department of Homeland Security.”
“Going forward, I hope our Democratic friends will stay true to the commitment they’ve stated constantly over the past weeks, that once government was reopened they’d be perfectly willing to negotiate in good faith on a full-year government funding that would include a significant investment in urgently needed border security measures, including physical barriers,” McConnell said.
Democrats quickly proclaimed victory, with both Schumer and Pelosi celebrating the plan that reopened the government without funding for a border wall.
“Democrats in the Senate and the House were united behind this position throughout the shutdown and ultimately this agreement endorses our position,” Schumer told reporters in the Capitol after Trump remarks. “Hopefully the president has learned his lesson.”
“Our unity is our power and that is maybe what the President underestimated,” Pelosi said.
After the announcement, the Senate passed the short-term CR plan by a voice vote. The House, shortly after easily advanced the CR by unanimous consent. It headed to the President’s desk, in which he signed Friday evening.
“On Friday, Jan. 25, 2019, the president signed into law: H.J. Res. 28, the ‘Further Additional Continuing Appropriations Act, 2019,’ which includes a short-term continuing resolution that provides fiscal year 2019 appropriations through Feb. 15, 2019, for continuing projects and activities of the Federal Government included in the remaining seven appropriations bills,” the White House said in a statement late Friday. “Also included in the enrolled bill are provisions regarding retroactive pay and reimbursement, and extensions of certain authorities.”
The House and Senate also voted to establish a bicameral, bipartisan conference committee to negotiate funding for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The conference will include Republican Sens. Richard Shelby, Shelley Moor Capito, John Hoeven and Roy Blunt, as well as Democratic Sens. Patrick Leahy, Dick Durbin and John Tester.
Before signing the bill, Trump took to Twitter to defend the short-term funding bill is “no way a concession.”
I wish people would read or listen to my words on the Border Wall. This was in no way a concession. It was taking care of millions of people who were getting badly hurt by the Shutdown with the understanding that in 21 days, if no deal is done, it’s off to the races!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 26, 2019
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said on Twitter that the President will move forward with building a wall in three weeks, whether Democrats want to make a deal or not.
In 21 days President @realDonaldTrump is moving forward building the wall with or without the Democrats. The only outstanding question is whether the Democrats want something or nothing https://t.co/dMaDfBOIuT— Sarah Sanders (@PressSec) January 26, 2019