President Donald Trump said Friday he’s reached a deal to temporarily reopen the federal government after a month-long shutdown, an agreement that won’t include new funding for a border wall despite weeks of the President’s once-ironclad demands.
“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.
The measure, Trump said, would allow federal workers to resume being paid as Democratic and Republican lawmakers convene to discuss the administration’s requests for border security funding.
Trump stopped short of declaring a national emergency to secure border wall funding without Congress, but suggested he hadn’t yet ruled out that prospect.
“As everyone knows I have a very powerful alternative but I’m not going to use it at this time,” Trump said.
In the deal
The stopgap funding measure that Trump endorsed on Friday would fund the government through February 15, but does not include any new funding for Trump’s promised border wall.
Trump spent the past weeks demanding that any measure reopening the government include $5.7 billion in funding for a barrier on the US-Mexico border, which was a signature campaign promise.
But amid mounting pressure from Republican lawmakers and a budding air travel meltdown, Trump appeared to agree to Democrats’ request that government be reopened before the border wall funding issue be debated.
Once the short-term measure is passed, lawmakers will return to negotiations over the money while federal workers return to their jobs.
Leading up to Trump’s remarks, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer was in direct talks with the White House over finalizing the deal’s language, the people familiar with the matter said.
Federal workers have now gone for two pay periods without paychecks. Trump said from the Rose Garden that workers, who went for weeks without pay, would receive wages soon.
“I will make sure that all employees receive their back pay very quickly or as soon as possible. It’ll happen fast,” Trump said.
The President thanked federal workers while announcing the deal to reopen the government for their “devotion in the face of this recent hardship.”
“When I say make America great again — it could never be done without you,” Trump said, calling federal workers “great people.”
Once the measure is passed, lawmakers will have three weeks to reach an agreement that addresses Trump’s standing border wall funding request.
If they don’t reach a deal in that span, Trump could still invoke a national emergency, people familiar with the matter said.
Trump has faced increasing pressure to find a way out of the weeks-long border standoff, which on Friday led to widespread delays at East Coast airports. The pressure increased when two competing proposals to end the deadlock failed in the Senate on Thursday.
After those measures collapsed, Republican and Democratic leaders began frenzied negotiations to end the shutdown, which left 800,000 federal workers without another paycheck on Friday. That resulted in the three-week stopgap funding measure that would fund the government and allow workers to be paid.
Trump said on Thursday he would accept such a measure only if it included a “prorated down payment” on the border wall. Neither he nor his aides specified a dollar figure for the down payment.
The President has also not ruled out declaring a national emergency, and on Thursday repeatedly insisted he had many “alternatives” to securing border wall funding that did not involve Congress. CNN reported exclusively on Thursday that a national emergency proclamation had been drafted that would allow for potentially billions of federal dollars to be put toward wall construction.
Pressure to end the shutdown increased on Friday after air traffic was delayed at two New York-area airports — LaGuardia and Newark — in addition to Philadelphia International Airport due to staffing issues at a Federal Aviation Administration regional air traffic control center.
A day earlier, Republican lawmakers vented their frustration at Vice President Mike Pence during a tense lunch over a lack of a strategy out of the shutdown.
Administration officials have said as recently as this week that if the shutdown began to devastate air travel, they feared Republicans would jump ship and get on board with a short-term Democratic plan to reopen the government.
Outside political advisers to the President and his allies on Capitol Hill have also worried major flight issues would amplify the blame Trump its already facing for the shutdown. They, too, believe that major disruptions to air travel would ramp up pressure to reopen the government without wall funding.
One of Trump’s top allies, meanwhile, suggested the delays could shake loose a deal.
“I think the problems at the airport are a sign of things to come and I’ve been ready for weeks now to reopen the government and give us a chance without a shutdown hanging over us to reach a compromise,” Sen. Lindsey Graham told reporters on Friday.
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