President Donald Trump announced on Jan. 25 that he had reached a deal with Congress to reopen the government for 21 days, giving lawmakers a window to negotiate a bipartisan bill that would fund a wall on the southern border. If no measure is passed by Feb. 15, Trump says he will use the executive power afforded to him by the Constitution to secure funding for the border wall.
The president made the announcement 36 days after a partial government shutdown began in December as a result of a standoff between the president and Democratic leaders over funding for a border wall. The reopening of the government, once approved by Congress, would mean that 800,000 federal workers will receive the pay they missed during the longest furlough in U.S. history.
“I will make sure that all employees receive their back-pay very quickly, as soon as possible,” Trump said, praising those who have endured without pay.
“I am so proud that you are citizens of our country—when I say ‘Make America Great Again,’ it could never be done without you.”
Democratic leaders in Congress have refused to negotiate funding for a border wall while the government is closed. Trump’s move is a temporary concession that returns the spotlight back on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.
“Democrats have been saying for weeks they’ll negotiate on wall funding when the government is open. POTUS is now giving them yet ANOTHER opportunity to come to the table,” Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) wrote on Twitter.
Democrats have been saying for weeks they’ll negotiate on wall funding when the government is open. POTUS is now giving them yet ANOTHER opportunity to come to the table. Americans will be able to judge for themselves whether Democrats are truly serious about securing our border.
— Mark Meadows (@RepMarkMeadows) January 25, 2019
“Americans will be able to judge for themselves whether Democrats are truly serious about securing our border.”
Pelosi did not immediately issue a statement in response to Trump. Schumer praised the president for reopening the government, noting that the debate on funding for a border wall will restart.
“The longest shutdown in American history will finally end. The president has agreed to our request to open the government then debate border security,” Schumer wrote on Twitter. “This is great news for 800,000 federal workers & millions of Americans who depend on government services.”
The longest shutdown in American history will finally end. The president has agreed to our request to open the government then debate border security. This is great news for 800,000 federal workers & millions of Americans who depend on government services. https://t.co/lXuepIC2kJ
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) January 25, 2019
Trump is demanding $5.7 billion in funds for a border wall, his signature campaign promise. Those funds are part of a comprehensive border security package requested by experts from the Department of Homeland Security. The package includes funding for more border patrol agents, immigration judges, and scanning equipment at ports of entries.
Trump asked Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to put the temporary compromise legislation on the Senate floor as soon as possible. Once the government is reopened, a bipartisan committee of House and Senate lawmakers will work together to draft a bill that works for both the president and Democrat leaders, Trump said.
“This is an opportunity for all parties to work together for the benefit of our whole beautiful nation,” Trump said.
On Jan. 24, the Senate failed to pass dueling bills put forth by Republican and Democrat lawmakers. Six Senate Republicans voted against the GOP bill, which would fund the border wall. The Democrat bill, which would reopen the government without wall funding, fell eight votes short of the 60 votes needed to pass a spending measure.
Republicans hold a 53-47 majority in the Senate and need at least seven Democrats to pass any spending bill. At least 7 Democratic Senators have expressed support for a border wall, according to a tally compiled by Republican Senator Bill Cassidy (R-La.)
“[They have] finally and fully acknowledged that having barriers, fencing … will be an important part of the solution,” Trump said.
Trump stressed that the situation on the southern border is a serious threat to national security, pointing to the massive flow of illicit drugs, gangs, and human trafficking.
“The requests we have put before Congress are vital to ending the humanitarian crisis on the Southern border,” Trump said. “This crisis threatens the safety of our country.”
The president said that funding a border wall would have a great impact on the economy and reduce crime.
“I believe crime in this country can go down by a massive percentage if we have great security on our southern border,” Trump said.