The government shutdown is coming to a close — for now.
President Donald Trump announced his support for a bill to reopen parts of the federal government in a speech at the White House on Friday. The deal would fund affected agencies through February 15, a Democratic aide told INSIDER, and bring an end to the longest shutdown in US history.
Trump’s support clears the way for congressional leaders to quickly pass a short-term funding bill called a continuing resolution, setting up a high-stakes negotiating period to avoid another closure before a February 15 deadline.
The deal would not include any money for Trump’s proposed wall along the US-Mexico border and would give federal workers back pay, the Democratic aide said. The idea is similar to the continuing resolution advanced in the Senate before the shutdown started on December 22. Democrats have demanded that Trump first open the government and then negotiate about a wall.
In his speech, Trump advocated a border wall and threatened to shut down the government again if Democrats do not agree to give him money for it.
“We really have no choice but to build a powerful wall or steel barrier,” the president 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.”
Trump also alluded to his previous threats to bypass Congress and declare a national emergency to get money for the wall.
“As everyone knows, I have a very powerful alternative, but I didn’t want to use it at this time,” Trump said.
Friday is the 35th day of the shutdown, and the negative effects of the closure have taken a toll. Federal workers missed their second consecutive paycheck, and staffing issues led to widespread delays at major airports across the US — a major factor in Trump’s willingness to support a short-term continuing resolution, CNN reported.
Reopening the government would allow for federal workers to get back pay, which would provide much-needed financial relief for those facing mounting bills.
The president expressed gratitude for the 800,000 federal workers who have gone over a month without pay.
“I want to thank all of the incredible federal workers and their amazing families who have shown such extraordinary devotion in the face of this recent hardship,” Trump said. “You are fantastic people. You are incredible patriots.”
The shutdown started on December 22 when Trump rejected a short-term funding extension because it did not include money for his long-promised border wall. Since then, Trump and Democratic leaders have been in a standoff over his request for $5.7 billion to fund a wall.
Democrats have repeatedly requested that the president support a short-term funding bill with no wall money, and party leaders have said that no negotiations about a wall will take place while the government is closed.
Negotiations to end the shutdown seemed stalled in recent days. On Thursday, the Senate shot down two bills that would have reopened the government — one with funding for a border wall, and one without. The bill with the wall funding was modeled on a plan announced by Trump on Saturday that would have traded his requested wall money for temporary extensions to protections for so-called Dreamers, undocumented immigrants who were brought to the US as children.
After the failure of the two bills, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer met to work out a path forward, which appears to have yielded some success.
Trump has consistently resisted opening the government with a short-term bill that does not include wall funding, but recent polling has found that nearly half of Americans blame Trump for the shutdown and that most dislike the president using the shutdown as a political tool.