By: Evan Denny
The record-setting 35-day federal shutdown has ended with President Donald Trump giving in to mounting pressure and signing legislation to reopen the government for three weeks. Trump, in a weakened negotiating position, will try again to persuade lawmakers to finance the wall, with a Feb. 15 deadline looming as he holds out the potential of another shutdown.
Throughout the shutdown, 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.
The Senate first rejected a Republican plan 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.
“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.”
President Donald Trump went to a lectern in the Rose Garden and announced a deal to end the partial government shutdown that had forced air traffic controllers and airport screeners to work without pay. 800,000 federal workers faced a second two-week payday with no paychecks.
Six of the 13 controllers who normally staff a critical air traffic center in Virginia didn’t come to work Friday. LaGuardia Airport in New York and Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey were particularly affected, leading to 3,000 late flights by midafternoon.
The shutdown had become a source of growing alarm for travelers and airlines. The absence rate among airport screeners peaked at 10 percent last weekend, meaning longer lines. Some government workers and contractors were grounded, costing Delta Air Lines up to $25 million and Southwest Airlines up to $15 million in lost revenue.
Federal workers who have gone a month without getting paid during the longest government shutdown in U.S. history expressed relief Friday that a deal had been reached to end the impasse but are worried they’ll be in the same spot in a few weeks.
“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 and use money under such a declaration to pay for the border wall unilaterally. Such a move would almost certainly face legal challenges.
A bipartisan committee of House and Senate lawmakers was being formed to consider border spending as part of the legislative process in the coming weeks.
Trump tweeted, “This was in no way a concession” and said he wanted to help those “badly hurt” by the shutdown. The president also said, without elaboration, that if there is no “fair deal” with Congress by Feb. 15, “it’s off to the races!”
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.”
Also to be determined is a new date for the president to deliver his State of the Union address, which was postponed from Jan. 29 during the shutdown.
The Associated Press contributed to this Article.