President Donald Trump announced Friday a plan to end the partial government shutdown, by temporarily caving to Democrat demands to reopen the government.
Trump agreed to reopen the government for three weeks while negotiations continued — with no apparent wall funding concessions from Democrats.
The president warned that if Congress could not successfully negotiate a deal including wall funding in three weeks, he would be forced to announce a State of Emergency, which would allow him to shift funds to build border structures without Congress.
“If we don’t get a fair deal from Congress, the government either shuts down on February 15th again or I will use the powers afforded to me under the laws and the Constitution of the United States to address this emergency,” he said.
He argued that he had heard from enough Democrats during the shutdown who were willing to support border security including physical barriers as part of the solution, allowing him to reopen the government temporarily.
“Many disagree, but I really feel that working with Democrats and Republicans, we can make a truly great and secure deal happen for everyone,” he said.
The president announced a bipartisan congressional committee to review border patrol requests for security and asked them to come up with a compromise deal.
“They will put together a homeland security package for me to shortly sign into law,” Trump said. He urged both parties to work together to solve the problems at the border. He defended the idea of a wall or a physical barrier as part of the negotiations.
“Walls should not be controversial,” Trump said.
The president delivered his remarks in the Rose Garden at the White House. Vice President Mike Pence together with several members of Trump’s cabinet attended the speech including Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Other White House staff including senior adviser Jared Kushner watched the speech. They clapped as Trump announced his decision.
Trump announced his decision as Federal workers face a second missed paycheck as the government shutdown enters its 35th day.
The president thanked federal workers who suffered financial difficulties as a result of the shutdown, vowing that they would receive back pay.
“You are very, very special people. I am so proud that you are citizens of our country,” he said. “When I say ‘Make America Great Again,’ it could never be done without you.”
Trump made his announcement after Congress reached an impasse on a bill to reopen the government. Both Senate measures failed to meet the necessary 60-vote threshold needed to move a bill forward. Speaker Nancy Pelosi refused to compromise with Trump on any wall funding, demanding unconditionally that the government be reopened first.
The White House finally caved to Democrats demands, despite Trump’s repeated assertions this week that he would not do so.