Trump agrees to end shutdown without getting wall funding

President Trump said Friday he will back a short-term funding bill to reopen the government that does not include funds to construct a wall along the southern border, bowing to mounting pressure fueled by growing disruption due to the lengthy shutdown.

“I am very proud to announce today that we have reached a deal to end the shutdown and reopen the federal government,” Trump said.

The deal, announced by Trump from the Rose Garden of the White House, amounts to a victory for Democrats who have refused the president’s demand for $5.7 billion in wall funding. Trump had said for weeks he would not reopen the government without that money.

{mosads}The measure Trump will sign funds the government through Feb. 15 and the president said he would use that period to extract wall funding from lawmakers. A bipartisan committee of House and Senate lawmakers will meet to develop a funding proposal for border security, including physical barriers separating the U.S. from Mexico, according to the president.

“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, I think, and put the security of the American people first,” Trump said in his Rose Garden remarks.

If he cannot get a “fair deal,” Trump warned the government will shut down again or he may declare a national emergency to circumvent Congress and build the wall. Such a move would almost certainly draw a swift legal challenge.

“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 told reporters later in the Roosevelt Room of the White House.

During his Rose Garden remarks, Trump said “no border security plan can never work without a physical barrier. It just doesn’t happen.”

Trump said federal workers will receive back pay “as soon as possible” as part of the deal. An administration officials later said checks are expected to come in four to five days.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) later said the Senate will vote on the measure Friday.

The Senate passed the measure by voice vote later Friday. The House is expected to quickly follow and send it to Trump’s desk.

The announcement comes after days of Trump insisting that Republican lawmakers were united in the push to secure wall funding, and that he would not cave on the issue. The Senate on Thursday rejected a pair of proposals to reopen the government, including one offered up by the White House.

Notably, a measure to reopen the government for a few weeks that was backed by Senate Democrats also won six GOP votes.

Following the Senate votes, Trump told reporters he would support a “reasonable agreement” among Senate leaders.

“I have other alternatives if I have to,” Trump said when asked about the prospect of a deal without wall funding. “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.”

Conversations about ending the shutdown began Thursday between the White House and members of Congress and the deal was finalized on Friday, according to an administration official.

Trump’s demand for more than $5 billion to fund the wall triggered the partial government shutdown that began on Dec. 22. Democrats have staunchly opposed providing any money for the structure.

The administration official said the president decided to end the shutdown because he believes some rank-and-file Democrats have indicated they would support wall funding.

“Democrats seemed to have changed their mind on wall money, the president opened up the government,” the official said.

Another official told reporters that “if they decide not to operate in good faith, then that’s on them and you guys should report that.”

But Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), emboldened by Trump’s decision to end the shutdown, said she has been “very clear” that she will not support wall funding.

“Our unity is our power, and that maybe is what the president underestimated,” she told reporters at the Capitol after the president’s speech.

A senior Democratic aide said Pelosi kept Trump “off-balance” by refusing to negotiate on wall funding and blocking the State of the Union address while the government was shut down.

“Ultimately, the president came to the Speaker’s way on her insistence on the State of the Union and on reopening government before negotiations,” the aide said. 

Following initial remarks about the shutdown, Trump spent much of his speech warning that the U.S. would be overwhelmed by crime and illegal immigration without a wall and increased border security.

At one point, a teleprompter in the Rose Garden read “Talk about Human Trafficking” as the president riffed an ad-libbed account of the dangers migrants face when trying to enter the U.S.

“Women are tied up. They’re bound. Duct tape put around their faces, around their mouths. In many cases, they can’t even breathe,” he said.

Some experts have said there is little or no evidence to support such descriptions.

The urgency to reopen the government seemed to be heightened among some lawmakers on Friday after the Federal Aviation Administration temporarily halted flights into and out of LaGuardia Airport in New York City, citing staffing shortages because of the shutdown.

Trump in his remarks called federal workers “incredible patriots” who “have suffered far greater than anyone.”

Hundreds of thousands of federal workers have been furloughed or required to work without pay during the shutdown. Many government employees have missed two paychecks as of Friday.

There were also signs the shutdown was taking a toll on Trump’s political standing.

An ABC News/Washington Post poll released earlier Friday showed the president’s disapproval rating rising to 58 percent over the past three months as the majority of Americans blamed him and Republicans in Congress for the shutdown.

The deal angered some influential figures in the president’s base, who accused the president of caving on his signature campaign promise of building a wall at the border.

“Good news for George Herbert Walker Bush: As of today, he is no longer the biggest wimp ever to serve as President of the United States,” tweeted conservative pundit Ann Coulter.

Some Trump allies were willing to cut him some slack, at least for now.

“It doesn’t upset me in any way shape, manner or form,” Fox News host Sean Hannity said on his radio show. “And actually, I think it’s a good play on the president’s part to come off as a leader and reasonable.”

Updated at 6:02 p.m.

Tags Appropriations Border wall Budget Donald Trump Government shutdown Mitch McConnell Nancy Pelosi Shutdown

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