It’s over, or soon will be. After 35 days, the longest government shutdown in U.S. history neared a sudden and surprising end on Friday, as President Trump and lawmakers reached a deal to temporarily reopen federal departments and agencies for three weeks while negotiations over border security continue.
The deal does not include any money for the president’s desired wall on the southern border.
In other words, a day after tweeting, “We will not Cave!,” the president did just that — and with a capital C.
Trump took a deal he could have had 35 days ago — though he also left open the possibility of further action in a few weeks’ time to get the wall he wants if a bipartisan congressional committee to negotiate on border security fails to reach an agreement.
“We really have no choice but to build a powerful wall or steel barrier,” Trump said. “If we don’t get a fair deal from Congress, the government will either shut down on February 15 again, or I will use the powers afforded to me under the laws and the constitution of the United States to address this emergency.”
The unexpected deal came after the Senate on Thursday failed to pass competing Republican and Democratic plans to reopen the government, sending Senate leaders scrambling for another path forward. “With polls showing the president enduring most of the blame by the public, Republicans led by Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, pressured Mr. Trump to agree to the temporary cease-fire,” The New York Times reported.
Trump had previously shot down short-term agreements like the one he endorsed Friday, including the House-passed Democratic proposal that failed in the Senate on Thursday. Six Republican senators crossed party lines to vote for that short-term funding measure, which received more votes than the Trump-GOP plan.
Friday’s announcement also follows reports of intraparty clashes and heated moments at a Senate GOP luncheon before Thursday’s votes, a sign of how the ongoing shutdown was increasingly frustrating Republicans. And it comes as after a series of airport delays rippled across the Northeast as the result of air traffic controllers who called in sick rather than coming to work without pay. Flights to New York's LaGuardia Airport were temporarily halted as a result of air-traffic controller staffing shortages.
Those air travel issues reportedly played a major part in Trump’s decision. “The thing about airport chaos is that lawmakers fly, their family/friends fly, and their donors fly. It’s the red line that shall not be crossed,” Bloomberg’s Sahil Kapur tweeted.
Approximately 800,000 federal workers missed a second round of paychecks on Friday because of the shutdown. They will now get back pay — but approximately 1.2 million federal contractors who were affected by the shutdown will not.
Here’s what people are saying about Trump’s announcement:
- The deal represents “a remarkable comedown for a president who made the wall his unwavering, nonnegotiable condition for reopening the government,” the Times said.
- “It begs the question, how is this not all for naught? The entire 35-day period was completely for naught… It just defies logic at all,” CNN Political Director David Chalian said.
- “Conservative media already hammering Trump. Both Drudge and Breitbart running ‘No Wall’ in red siren font on homepages,” Axios’ Jonathan Swan noted.
- “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,” conservative firebrand Ann Coulter tweeted. Trump last month rejected a short-term funding deal that would have avoided a shutdown after a backlash from Coulter and other conservative commentators.
- “Everyone be sure to thank Ann Coulter for the last 35 days. Brilliant strategist,” Democratic commentator and former Obama speechwriter Jon Favreau tweeted.
- “I hope the president remembers this when the Freedom Caucus types tell him what to do next time. They only have a first move - start a fight. They never have a second move,” an unnamed senior Republican told Politico’s John Bresnahan.
- “[F]ailure to fund needed physical barriers along our southern border is still not an option. The President is sticking by his commitment to keep our communities safe and has assured me that nothing will deter him from accomplishing that goal…If negotiations don’t result in a solution, executive action is still very much under consideration,” House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-NC) said.
- “We're not going to build a wall, and we all paid for it,” MSNBC’s David Gura tweeted.