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Trump accepts deal to reopen the government that he could have accepted a month ago

The shutdown lasted nearly 36 days.

The White House has reached a temporary deal with Congress to re-open the government and end the 35-day long partial shutdown, President Donald Trump announced Friday afternoon. (Photo credit: Win McNamee/Getty Images)
The White House has reached a temporary deal with Congress to re-open the government and end the 35-day long partial shutdown, President Donald Trump announced Friday afternoon. (Photo credit: Win McNamee/Getty Images)

The White House has reached a short-term deal with congressional leaders to end the partial shutdown that has lasted nearly 36 days, President Donald Trump announced Friday afternoon — essentially agreeing to the same deal to reopen the government that both chambers passed in late December.

Speaking to reporters in the Rose Garden, the president endorsed a three-week continuing resolution that would fund the government through February 15. Congress will then debate a border security plan as part of a broader Homeland Security funding bill.

The three-week deal notably does not include any funding for Trump’s proposed U.S.-Mexico border wall, the issue that triggered the shutdown on December 21 and has left Congress at an impasse for the past month.

“I am very proud to announce today that we have reached a deal to end the shutdown and reopen the federal government,” Trump said Friday. “As everyone knows, I have a very powerful alternative but I didn’t want to use it at this time. Hopefully it will be unnecessary.”

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Trump appeared to be referring to his earlier threat to declare a national emergency along the southern border, in order to divert funding for a border wall.

The president then thanked federal employees affected by the shutdown, falsely claiming many of them had supported his demands for border wall funding.

“I will make sure that all employees receive their back pay very quickly or as soon as possible,” Trump added Friday. “It’ll happen fast.”

Since the start of the shutdown over the border wall, nearly 800,000 federal workers have been furloughed or forced to work without pay, many of them turning to food banks, selling their belongings, and draining any savings they had to make ends meet. Though many will receive backpay, contractors who continued to work with shuttered government agencies will likely receive no such recourse.

The move also comes hours after multiple major airports across the country were experiencing delays of more than an hour due to shortages in federal air traffic controllers. Many workers have said they are unable to make it to work, due to financial limitations as a result of the shutdown.

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According to a White House official who spoke to CNN, the airport delays reportedly factored heavily into the president’s decision to cut a deal with lawmakers.

Congress has been at an impasse for weeks since Trump vetoed a stopgap spending bill on December 20 that would have kept the government running. That measure was nearly identical to the deal proposed on Friday, and would have funded most government agencies through February 8. However, the bill did not include funding for Trump’s proposed border wall, prompting the president to reject the measure.

“I’ve made my position very clear. Any measure that funds the government must include border security,” he said at the time. “Walls work, whether we like it or not. They work better than anything.”

Since then, Republicans supportive of Trump have sparred with Democrats, fighting for at least $5.7 billion in wall funding, a sum Democrats have pointedly refused to accept.

Earlier this month, the House passed several pieces of legislation to reopen the government, but those bills similarly provided zero funding for a border wall, leaving the two sides at a stalemate once more.

Earlier this week, the Senate voted on a competing pair of bills meant to end the shutdown — a House-passed short-term spending bill that would have funded the government through February 8, and a White House proposal that would have provided funding for the border wall and offered three-year protections for undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children as well as those from countries with temporary protected status.

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Neither bill passed, and critics slammed the White House-backed bill as a sham, noting it would have upended the current asylum system and targeted Central American immigrants.

Trump on Friday re-emphasized his desire for a border wall, claiming without proof that criminals were driving across the border to traffic women and ferry illegal drugs — both points that have been widely debunked — adding that he expected Congress to come to an agreement over the next three weeks to fund a wall and tighten security measures.

“This is an opportunity for all parties to work together for the benefit of our whole beautiful, wonderful nation. If we make a fair deal, the American people will be proud of their government for proving that we can put country before party,” he said. “We can show all American and people all around the world that both political parties are united when it comes to protecting our country and protecting our people.”

The president then revisited the idea of declaring a national emergency, adding, “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.”