Donald Trump reaches deal with Congress to reopen government temporarily | News | DW | 25.01.2019
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Donald Trump reaches deal with Congress to reopen government temporarily

President Donald Trump has signed a bill temporarily reopening the government for three weeks. The deal, passed unanimously by Congress, did not include his $5.7 billion funding request for a border wall.

US President Donald Trump announced a breakthrough in the standoff with lawmakers over the partial federal shutdown on Friday. Congress moved quickly after his announcement, passing a short-term funding bill that Trump signed into law the same evening.

"I am very proud to announce today that we have reached a deal to end the shutdown and reopen the federal government," Trump told reporters at the White House before the legislation was voted on in Congress.

He added that the deal would temporarily reopen the US government for three weeks, until February 15.

Trump vowed to pay back federal employees who have continued to work through the 35-day shutdown, which is the longest in US history.

The deal did not appear to include Trump's demand for $5.7 billion (€5 billion) to fund a wall on the US-Mexico border. However, he said that a "bipartisan conference committee" of lawmakers in the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives and the Republican-controlled Senate would work on border security issues.

Watch video 02:57

US government workers seek alternative employment

At the end of his speech, Trump hinted that he was considering taking unilateral action or triggering another shutdown if negotiations on funding a wall at the US-Mexico border failed by the February 15 deadline.

Later on Friday the Senate unanimously passed the bill ending the shutdown, recalling to work thousands of federal workers who had been forced to stay home and providing back pay for two missed paychecks. The measure then proceeded to the House of Representatives, where it also passed with unanimous support. The White House confirmed that the president signed it into law.

The temporary end to the shutdown was largely seen as a victory for congressional Democrats. "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. 

However, Trump tweeted late Friday that the deal was not a "concession" and made it clear that he would welcome another shutdown in three weeks' time.

However, the hashtag #TrumpCaved started trending on Twitter in the aftermath of the announced deal, and some of the sharpest criticism of the president came from right-wing media outlets and commentators such as Ann Coulter. 

New York Daily News cartoonist Bill Bramhall illustrated his take on the scenario in favor of the House Democrats under House Speaker Nancy Pelosi:

Read more: Opinion: Trump's shutdown takes anti-government sentiment to new extremes

Deal without border wall funds

Members of Congress will now use the three-week period before the temporary funding expires to try to reach a compromise on the issue of border security. 

While he acquiesced to the stopgap funding bill, Trump underlined that he had not abandoned his goal of a border wall. He devoted the majority of his speech to defending the need for a physical barrier with Mexico, saying that "walls work." The border wall was one of his main campaign promises and a project that he'd repeatedly vowed that Mexico would pay for.

The president did, however, appear to tone down his general plans for the wall, saying that he had never proposed a coast-to-coast barrier.

"We do not need 2,000 miles of concrete wall from sea to shining sea. We never did," Trump said, adding that his plans now involve sections of a "smart wall" that will be see-through, made of steel and have drones patrolling it.

Trump had clashed with Democratic lawmakers over the border wall for weeks, saying he would not reopen government without first securing funding for the project.

Shutdown hits airports

The temporary deal came as the effects of the five-week shutdown began to spread on Friday, impacting air traffic at East Coast airports.

Earlier on Friday, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reported delays at New York's LaGuardia Airport as well as international airports in Newark and Philadelphia over air traffic control staffing issues.

Air traffic controllers, airport screening staff and other Transportation Security Administration (TSA) staff are among the federal workers who have not been paid during the shutdown.

The shutdown began on December 22, when funding for a portion of the US federal government ran out. For the past five weeks, hundreds of thousands of federal workers have been furloughed or required to work without pay.

Watch video 03:38

2 years of presidential power

cmb, rs/cmk (AP, dpa, Reuters, AFP)

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