President Donald Trump agreed under mounting pressure on Friday to end a 35-day-old partial U.S. government shutdown without getting the US$5.7 billion he had demanded from Congress for a border wall, handing a political victory to Democrats.
The three-week spending deal reached with congressional leaders, quickly passed by the Republican-led Senate and the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives without opposition, paves the way for tough talks with lawmakers about how to address security along the U.S.-Mexican border.
The Republican president's agreement to end the shuttering of about a quarter of the federal government without securing wall money - an astonishing retreat - came three days after he had insisted We will not Cave!
But Trump vowed that the shutdown would resume on Feb. 15 if he is dissatisfied with the results of a bipartisan House-Senate conference committee's border security negotiations, or he would declare a national emergency to get the wall money.
A lapse in funding had shuttered about a quarter of federal agencies, with about 800,000 workers either furloughed or required to work without pay. Many employees as well as contractors were turning to unemployment assistance, food banks and other support. Others began seeking new jobs.
With polls showing most Americans blamed him for the painful shutdown - the longest of its kind in U.S. history - Trump embraced a way out of the crisis that Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had been pushing for weeks. The shutdown, which pitted Pelosi against Trump - was her first test since assuming the post three weeks ago.
She drew praise from fellow Democrats for what they said was an out manoeuvring of the president.
Democrats remained unyielding in their opposition to a wall, one of Trump's signature campaign promises that they call ineffective, costly and immoral. Trump has said it is needed to curb illegal immigration and drug trafficking.
Asked by reporters if she could guarantee there will not be another government shutdown in three weeks, Pelosi said, I can't assure the public about anything that the president will do, but I do have to say I'm optimistic.
Speaking in the White House Rose Garden on a chilly, sunny winter day, Trump said he would act to ensure that federal workers get their back pay very quickly, or as soon as possible.
Trump had previously demanded the inclusion of the money to help pay for a wall in any legislation to fund government agencies, but Democrats had blocked him.
An administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that stories of law enforcement officials not being able to do their jobs at full capacity helped convince Trump to agree to a short-term solution to re-open the government.
The official said the White House ultimately would accept a deal with lawmakers if it includes wall funding, even if it is less than US$5.7 billion.
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 Feb. 15 - again - or I would use the powers afforded to me under the laws and the Constitution of the United States to address this emergency.
He previously has indicated he was considering an emergency declaration to circumvent congressional funding powers if lawmakers do not fund his wall, an action that almost certainly would be swiftly challenged by Democrats as exceeding his authority under the U.S. Constitution.
Trump triggered the shutdown, which began on Dec. 22, with his wall-funding demand after being criticized by conservative commentators for being willing to sign legislation funding the government without securing wall money.
In related news it was reported the U.S. economy lost at least US$6 billion during the partial shutdown of the federal government due to lost productivity from furloughed workers and economic activity lost to outside business
Although this shutdown has ended, little agreement on Capitol Hill will likely weigh on business confidence and financial market sentiments, S&P Global Ratings said in a news release.
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Does this mean Trump will be allowed to give the State of the Union address after all? I'll laugh if he ended the shutdown because of Pelosi's gambit.Jan 27th, 2019 - 10:30 am 0
@DemonTreeJan 27th, 2019 - 05:11 pm 0
I'm afraid to die laughing if he gets the funds to build the wall!
I'm not laughing. It's all Kabuki on his part. ;)Jan 28th, 2019 - 03:36 am 0