President Donald Trump announced Friday that negotiators had reached a deal to end the 35-day government shutdown – in a dramatic reversal on deal that does not include funding for his border wall.
Trump said a plan had been reached to reopen the government for three weeks, and said negotiators would use that time for talks on a wall – a demand he walked away from after making it a condition for reopening the government.
‘I am very proud to announce today that we have reached a deal to end the shutdown and reopen the federal government,’ Trump said at the Rose Garden after being applauded by his cabinet members and staff.
The deal includes no funding for the wall beyond existing authorities for repair of existing structures. But Trump referenced a ‘very powerful alternative’ that he has – a reference to emergency powers he claims he has but ‘hopefully’ won’t have to use.
He said a bipartisan committee of lawmakers would meet to discuss border security needs.
President Donald Trump announced a deal to end the 35-day government shutdown
After delivering extended remarks on what he considers the virtues of a wall and tough border security – carried live by TV networks closely following the shutdown – the president issued yet another shutdown threat.
‘Let me be very clear. 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. We will have great security and I want to thank you all very much,’ Trump said, ending his remarks.
He was likely referencing emergency powers that presidents have invoked for imposing sanctions and other issues.
Even as he capitulated to Democrats on Day 35 of the shutdown, Trump hailed walls as a powerful tool.
The president made his announcement from the White House Rose Garden
We really have no choice but to build a powerful wall or steel barrier,’ Trump said at the end of his remarks
Trump said a bipartisan committee of lawmakers would meet to discuss border security needs – and threatened to declare a national emergency if he couldn’t get congressional funding for a wall
‘It’s just common sense. Walls work,’ Trump said. He then delivered extended remarks on the virtue of border barriers.
He hit back at Democrats who called the wall a ‘medieval’ approach.
‘They keep drugs out and they dramatically increase efficiency,’ Trump said. ‘These barriers are made of steel. Have see through-visibility, which is very important,’ he said.
‘No matter where you go, they work,’ Trump said, citing Israel’s use of a wall to separate Israeli territory from the West Bank. He also spoke repeatedly about drug smugglers and human traffickers, delivering extended remarks on women he claimed have their mouths duct-taped being sneaked across the border.
‘Women are tied up, they’re bound, duct-tape put around their faces, around their mouths, in many cases they can’t even breathe,’ he claimed, returning to a topic he brought up Thursday.
‘There’s nobody to catch them, there’s nobody to find them. They can’t come through the port, because if they come through the port, people will see four women sitting in a van, with tape around their face and around their mouth. Can’t have that,’ the president said.
During this portion of his remarks, the president ad-libbed while the teleprompter he uses said simply: ‘Talk about Human Trafficking,’ according to reporters who could see it.
‘This is the first time I’ve ever seen anyone do a defeat lap,’ quipped Democratic Rep. Dan Kildee of Michigan following Trump’s remarks.
‘This never should have happened,’ said Alaska GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski, whose state has a large percentage of federal employees and who is one of the handful of Republicans who backed a Democratic bill to reopen government without a wall.
Since Thursday, negotiators were focused on a deal to keep the government open for three weeks, until Feb. 15, allowing broader talks could continue.
Nevertheless, Trump has repeatedly insisted he would only sign legislation to reopen the government if Democrats included $5.7 billion for a border wall. Democrats have refused, and balked at what they termed hostage-taking.
Trump and lawmakers from both parties could use the three-week period to continue negotiations over the wall, although Democrats have called the issue a dead-end.
If Trump takes the route of the emergency declaration, Democrats have vowed to sue.
The short-term extension would continue current-year funding for wall repairs and fencing, at a rate of $1.3 billion for the year, CNN reported.
The president has continued to hint at other actions he could try to take unilaterally, including using emergency powers to build a wall.
Although this might not withstand a court challenge, it could provide a way for Trump to agree to reopen the government while stating that he was not backing down on the wall – a chief promise of his presidential campaign.
Negotiators in Congress finally began making strides after the defeat of two separate bills to reopen shuttered agencies were defeated in the Senate Friday.
Trump was to speak from the Rose Garden, the White House said. There was no official announcement of a deal, but Senate negotiators had been haggling over a three-week short extension of government funding.
Trump has demanded a ‘downpayment’ on the border wall but later called for ‘pro rated’ funding.
CBS News reported that senior administration officials expected Trump to endorse a short-term funding deal. The Hill reported that it could run to 45 days, but there was no talk of a ‘big deal’ including major immigration changes of the kind being advocated over the weekend.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders didn’t hint at the outlines of any deal or mention Trump’s coveted border wall in a Friday tweet.
Progress: Movement began after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky. finally allowed two bills, one representing Trump’s proposal and one that was a clean government funding bill, to come to the floor and fail
TALKING!: Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. met Thursday with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell
CHAOS: A person walks past a board showing departure and arrival times at LaGuardia airport in New York, New York, USA, 25 January 2019. The Federal Aviation Administration officials announced that there was a temporary restriction on flights into and out of the airport today due to staffing issues that were likely linked to continuing partial shutdown of the federal governmentm which is now in its 35th day
A view of an aircraft at a gate at LaGuardia airport in New York, New York, USA, 25 January 2019. The Federal Aviation Administration officials announced that there was a temporary restriction on flights into and out of the airport today due to staffing issues that were likely linked to continuing partial shutdown of the federal governmentm which is now in its 35th day
LETS MAKE A DEAL: Trump has demanded border wall funds to reopen the government. If he were to back down, it would be the second time this week, after agreeing not to deliver a State of the Union speech while the government was shuttered
‘The President will make remarks regarding the shutdown in the Rose Garden today at 1:30pm. This will be an open press event,’ she wrote.
Trump’s statement came after signs of both a bit of legislative movement after a month-long stalemate – and new demonstrations of the power of the partial shutdown to deal an economic blow to the nation while endangering the safety of citizens.
Airport travel chaos swept the northeast coast on Friday after the FAA ordered a brief ground stop on flights bound for LaGuardia Airport and delaying planes at Newark and Philadelphia due to air traffic control staff shortages caused by the government shutdown.
In a quick-fire series of alerts shortly after 10am on Friday, the FAA advised that it had implemented a ‘traffic management program’ at LaGuardia, one of New York’s major hub airports.
The airport, one of the busiest and one Trump knows well.
The president also was to speak just hours after his longtime advisor Roger Stone was indicted on charges of lying to investigators and witness tampering.
In Trump’s only earlier Friday communication, he blasted the Mueller probe as a ‘witch hunt’ and compared it to treatment of Drug Dealers and human traffickers – hinting at the immigration issues that have been on his mind as he fought for a border wall.
The first burst of movement came Thursday after Senate leaders arranged for side-by-side votes on President Trump’s plan, which included his demand for $5.7 billion in border wall funding, and a Democratic plan to reopen government without it.
The Democratic plan fared better, and six Republicans including new Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah voted for it. Trump’s plan only got 50-47 support, not enough to clear a 60-vote filibuster threshold that was needed.
Immediately afterward, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer – who Trump has mocked as ‘Crayin’ Chuck’ throughout the shutdown – entered the office of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for talks that have continued.
Negotiators focused on a short-term ‘continuing resolution’ to get the government open while negotiations continued.
Trump ally Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said he spoke to the president about a three-week funding bill. Trump at first said it would contain a ‘downpayment’ on wall funding, according to the White House. Trump in public remarks later Thursday referenced pro rated wall funding.
Democrats have dug in against the wall, insisting the president first reopen government and then negotiate.
GOP lawmakers turned on party leaders during a weekly caucus meeting on Thursday afternoon.
Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson exploded to McConnell that it was his fault that the party’s strategy to reopen the government was poised to fail.
‘Are you suggesting I’m enjoying this?’ McConnell responded.
Johnson’s spokesman confirmed the angry exchange to The Washington Post.
Other senators were at each other’s throats in the closed-door luncheon that preceded two mostly-party line votes in the United States Senate on bills pertaining to the government shutdown.
‘Nobody was blaming the president,’ Sen. John Cornyn told the Post. ‘But there was a lot of frustration expressed about the situation we find ourselves in.’
As the president was about to speak, a video message that FBI Director Christopher Wray taped for agents emerged online. They have not not been paid since the start of the shutdown.
‘I know tons of you are feeling the anxiety and the emotional strain of this shutdown. And 100-percent of you are feeling the financial strain,’ he said. ‘Making some people stay home when they don’t want to, and making others show up without pay–it’s mind-boggling, it’s short-sighted, and it’s unfair.’
Wray said in the unusual video that he wanted to speak to employees personally, because he wants them to know that he understands that his agents have bills to pay.
‘It takes a lot to get me angry, but I’m about as angry as I’ve been in a long, long time,’ he said.
He said he had not been making their case in the press, but he had been doing it behind closed doors.
‘In this polarized environment, even seemingly straightforward statements can be hijacked by one side or the other,’ he said. ‘We’re not going to give up – we’ll keep fighting to find a meaningful way to help you, to see if we can make something happen, and happen soon.’