David Koenig

Trump, Congress Leaders Reach Deal to End Shutdown Without Wall Funding

The deal will restore money for shuttered federal agencies until Feb. 15

President Donald Trump and congressional leaders reached a deal Friday to temporarily reopen the government and end the longest shutdown in U.S. history.

Trump agreed to endorse a short-term funding bill that doesn't include money for a border wall — something he had previously demanded as part of any continuing resolution to end the shutdown.

"I have a very powerful alternative but I didn’t want use it at this time and hopefully it won’t be necessary," Trump said during a news conference in the Rose Garden on day 35 of the shutdown.

The Senate and House approved the plan later Friday, and Trump signed it.

The deal will restore money for the shuttered federal agencies until Feb. 15 while negotiations continue on a longer-term solution. It also includes a back pay provision for furloughed employees, and Trump said he will make sure "all employees receive their back pay very quickly or as soon as possible."

"The longest shutdown in American history will finally end," Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., tweeted after Trump's announcement. "The president has agreed to our request to open the government then debate border security. This is great news for 800,000 federal workers & millions of Americans who depend on government services."

But the president isn't giving up on his push for border wall. Trump renewed calls for a border barrier and threatened another government shutdown or emergency declaration if he doesn't get a "fair deal." 

"Walls should not be controversial," Trump said. "Our country has built 654 miles of barrier over the last 15 years, and every career border patrol agent I've spoken to has told me, 'walls work.'"

In another development Friday, the Associated Press reported Trump would not deliver his State of the Union on Tuesday.

Following Trump's announcement, lawmakers on Capitol Hill expressed optimism that the deal would clear Congress and be signed into law by the president Friday.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said during a speech on the floor that "with cooperation we can pass legislation opening the government and send the DHS appropriations bill to a conference with the House today."

House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., confirmed in a statement that the House will pass the continuing resolution to reopen the government through Feb. 15.

Late Friday, Trump pushed back against criticism of his agreement to reopen the federal government without winning a promise of new funding for a border wall. With even some conservatives casting the agreement as a retreat by the president, Trump tweeted that it "was in no way a concession" on his part.

Pressure had been building among both parties to reopen agencies immediately and pay hundreds of thousands of beleaguered federal workers who missed a second biweekly paycheck on Friday.

The shutdown began three days before Christmas when Trump and top Democratic leaders in Congress reached a stalemate over Trump's demand for a $5.7 billion wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. The impasse continued for five weeks as the president and congressional Democrats remained at odds over his insistence that any compromise include money for his coveted border wall.

"You are fantastic people, you are incredible patriots," Trump said Friday. "Many of you have suffered far greater than anyone, but your families have known or understand, and not only did you not complain, but in many cases you encouraged me to keep going because you care so much about our country and our border security."

The standoff became so severe that, as the Senate opened Friday with prayer, Chaplain Barry Black called on high powers in the "hour of national turmoil" to help senators do "what is right."

Trump spoke at the White House on Friday as the toll of the shutdown was being felt at airports across the countries. The Federal Aviation Administration on Friday reported delays in air travel because of a "slight increase in sick leave" at two East Coast air traffic control facilities. White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said Trump has been briefed on the airport delays and was monitoring the situation.

The world's busiest airport — Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport — was experiencing long security wait times, a warning sign the week before it expects 150,000 out-of-town visitors for the Super Bowl.

LaGuardia Airport in New York and Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey were both experiencing at least 90-minute delays in takeoffs Friday.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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