Long­est shut­down over: Trump signs bill to re­open govern­ment

The Standard Journal - - LOCAL -

WASH­ING­TON — Sub­mit­ting to mount­ing pres­sure amid grow­ing dis­rup­tion, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump signed a bill at the end of last week to re­open the govern­ment for three weeks, back­ing down from his de­mand that Congress give him money for his bor­der wall be­fore fed­eral agen­cies get back to work.

Stand­ing alone in the Rose Gar­den, Trump said he would sign leg­is­la­tion fund­ing shut­tered agen­cies un­til Feb. 15 and try again to per­suade law­mak­ers to fi­nance his long-sought wall. The deal he reached with con­gres­sional lead­ers con­tains no new money for the wall but ends the long­est shut­down in U.S. his­tory.

First the Se­nate, then the House swiftly and unan­i­mously ap­proved the deal. Late on Jan. 25, Trump signed it into law. The ad­min­is­tra­tion asked fed­eral depart­ment heads to re­open of­fices in a “prompt and or­derly man­ner” and said fur­loughed em­ploy­ees can re­turn to work. That started over the week­end.

Trump’s re­treat came to an end on the 35th day of the par­tial shut­down as in­ten­si­fy­ing de­lays at the na­tion’s air­ports and an­other missed pay­day for hun­dreds of thou­sands of fed­eral work­ers brought new ur­gency to ef­forts to re­solve the stand­off.

“This was in no way a con­ces­sion,” Trump said in a tweet late Fri­day, fend­ing off crit­ics who wanted him to keep fight­ing. “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!”

The shut­down ended as Demo­cratic lead­ers had in­sisted it must — re­open the govern­ment first, then talk bor­der se­cu­rity.

“The pres­i­dent thought he could crack Democrats, and he didn’t, and I hope it’s a les­son for him,” said the Se­nate Demo­cratic leader, Chuck Schumer. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said of her mem­bers: “Our unity is our power. And that is what maybe the pres­i­dent un­der­es­ti­mated.”

Trump still made the case for a bor­der wall and main­tained he might again shut down the govern­ment over it. Yet, as ne­go­ti­a­tions restart, Trump en­ters them from a weak­ened po­si­tion. A strong ma­jor­ity of Amer­i­cans blamed him for the stand­off and re­jected his ar­gu­ments for a bor­der wall, re­cent polls show.

“If we don’t get a fair deal from Congress, the govern­ment will ei­ther shut down on Feb. 15, again, or I will use the pow­ers af­forded to me un­der the laws and Con­sti­tu­tion of the United States to ad­dress this emer­gency,” Trump said.

The pres­i­dent has said he could de­clare a na­tional emer­gency to fund the bor­der wall uni­lat­er­ally if Congress doesn’t pro­vide the money. Such a move would al­most cer­tainly face le­gal hur­dles.

As part of the deal with con­gres­sional lead­ers, a bi­par­ti­san com­mit­tee of House and Se­nate law­mak­ers was be­ing formed to con­sider bor­der spend­ing as part of the leg­isla­tive process in the weeks ahead.

“They are will­ing to put par­ti­san­ship aside, I think, and put the se­cu­rity of the Amer­i­can peo­ple first,” Trump said. He as­serted that a “bar­rier or walls will be an im­por­tant part of the so­lu­tion.”

The deal in­cludes back pay for some 800,000 fed­eral work­ers who have gone with­out pay­checks. The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion prom­ises to pay them as soon as pos­si­ble.

Also ex­pected is a new date for the pres­i­dent to de­liver his State of the Union ad­dress, post­poned dur­ing the shut­down. But it was not to be Jan. 29 as once planned, ac­cord­ing to a per­son fa­mil­iar with the plan­ning but unau­tho­rized to dis­cuss it.

As bor­der talks re­sume, Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch McCon­nell said he hopes there will be “good­faith ne­go­ti­a­tions over the next three weeks to try to re­solve our dif­fer­ences.”

Schumer said that while Democrats op­pose the wall money, they agree on other ways to se­cure the bor­der “and that bodes well for com­ing to an even­tual agree­ment.”

In strik­ing the accord, Trump risks back­lash from con­ser­va­tives who pushed him to keep fight­ing for the wall. Some lashed out last Fri­day for his hav­ing yielded, for now, on his sig­na­ture cam­paign prom­ise.

Con­ser­va­tive com­men­ta­tor Ann Coul­ter sug­gested on Twit­ter that she views Trump as “the big­gest wimp” to serve as pres­i­dent.

Money for the wall is not at all guar­an­teed, as Democrats have held united against build­ing a struc­ture as Trump once en­vi­sioned, pre­fer­ring other types of bor­der tech­nol­ogy. Asked about Trump’s wall, Pelosi, who has said re­peat­edly she won’t ap­prove money for it, said: “Have I not been clear? No, I have been very clear.”

Within the White House, there was broad recog­ni­tion among Trump’s aides that the shut­down pres­sure was grow­ing, and they couldn’t keep the stand­off go­ing in­def­i­nitely. The pres­i­dent’s ap­proval num­bers had suf­fered dur­ing the im­passe. Sev­eral Repub­li­cans were call­ing on him openly, and in pri­vate, to re­open the govern­ment late last week.

The break­through came as LaGuardia Air­port in New York and Ne­wark Lib­erty In­ter­na­tional Air­port in New Jer­sey both ex­pe­ri­enced at least 90-minute de­lays in take­offs last Fri­day be­cause of the shut­down. And 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.

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

Se­na­tors were talk­ing with in­creased ur­gency after the Jan. 24 de­feat of com­pet­ing pro­pos­als from Trump and the Democrats. Bi­par­ti­san talks pro­vided a glim­mer of hope on Jan. 25 that some agree­ment could be reached. But sev­eral se­na­tors said they didn’t know what to ex­pect as they ar­rived to watch the pres­i­dent’s tele­vised ad­dress from their lunch­room off the Se­nate floor.

The Se­nate first re­jected a Repub­li­can plan on Jan. 24 reopen­ing the govern­ment through Septem­ber and giv­ing Trump the $5.7 bil­lion he’s de­manded for build­ing seg­ments of that wall, a project that he’d long promised Mex­ico would fi­nance. The 50-47 vote for the mea­sure fell 10 shy of the 60 votes needed to suc­ceed.

Min­utes later, se­na­tors voted 52-44 for a Demo­cratic al­ter­na­tive that sought to open pad­locked agen­cies through Feb. 8 with no wall money. That was eight votes short. But it earned more sup­port than Trump’s plan, even though Repub­li­cans con­trol the cham­ber 53-47. It was aimed at giv­ing bar­gain­ers time to seek an accord while get­ting pay­checks to govern­ment work­ers who are ei­ther work­ing with­out pay or be­ing forced to stay home.

Con­tribut­ing to the pres­sure on law­mak­ers to find a so­lu­tion was the harsh re­al­ity con­fronting many of the fed­eral work­ers, who last Fri­day faced a sec­ond two-week pay­day with no pay­checks.

Through­out, the two sides is­sued mu­tu­ally ex­clu­sive de­mands that have blocked ne­go­ti­a­tions from even start­ing: Trump had re­fused to re­open govern­ment un­til Congress gave him the wall money, and con­gres­sional Democrats had re­jected bar­gain­ing un­til he re­opened govern­ment.

As­so­ci­ated Press writ­ers By Jill Colvin, Lisa Mas­caro, Zeke Miller, Cather­ine Lucey, Alan Fram, An­drew Tay­lor, Colleen Long, Matthew Daly, Lau­rie Kell­man and Juliet Lin­der­man contributed to this re­port.

/ AP-Jacquelyn Martin

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump an­nounces a deal to tem­po­rar­ily re­open the govern­ment on Fri­day from the Rose Gar­den of the White House in Wash­ing­ton after back­ing down from his de­mand that Congress give him money for his bor­der wall be­fore fed­eral agen­cies get back to work.

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