Bowing into Pressure, President Trump Ends Government Shutdown

President Donald Trump agreed on January 24 to reopen the federal government for three weeks while negotiations continued over how to secure the nation’s southwestern border, backing down after a monthlong standoff failed to force Democrats to give him billions of dollars for his long-promised wall. The President’s concession paved the way for the House and the Senate to pass a stopgap spending bill by voice vote. President Trump signed the stopgap measure immediately after its passage, restoring normal operations at a series of federal agencies for three weeks and opening the way to paying the 800,000 federal workers who have been furloughed or forced to work without pay for 35 days.

Despite not including any of the money for his proposed “border wall” President Donald Trump presented the agreement with congressional leaders as a victory anyway, and indicated in a speech in the Rose Garden that his cease-fire may only be temporary: If Republicans and Democrats cannot reach agreement on wall money by the February deadline, he said that he was ready to renew the confrontation or declare a national emergency to bypass Congress altogether. “We really have no choice but to build a powerful wall or steel barrier,” President Trump said. “If we don’t get a fair deal from Congress, the government will either shut down on Feb. 15, or I will use the powers afforded to me under the laws and Constitution of the United States to address this emergency.” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) reacted positively to President Trump’s decision to reopen the government. Schumer praised Democratic unity during the shutdown and Pelosi weighed in on the State of the Union date.

The surprise announcement was a remarkable surrender for a president who made the wall his nonnegotiable condition for reopening the government and a centerpiece of his political platform. Some immigration hard-liners that make up a key part of his political base were incensed by the capitulation. “Good news for George Herbert Walker Bush: As of today, he is no longer the biggest wimp ever to serve as President of the United States,” the commentator Ann Coulter, who has aggressively pushed Mr. Trump to keep his campaign promise on the wall, wrote on Twitter.

President Donald Trump relented as the effects of the shutdown were rippling with ever greater force across the economy, with fallout far beyond paychecks. On January 24, air traffic controllers calling in sick slowed air traffic across the Northeast, hundreds of workers at the Internal Revenue Service also did not show up, and the FBI director said he was as angry as he had ever been over his agents not being paid. “None of us are willing to go through this again,” said Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) who despite representing a state where President Donald Trump is very popular in, voted alongside a half-dozen Republicans for a Democratic measure to reopen the government for two weeks. “And it’s not just a few of us. There are a great many in our conference that feels pretty strongly.” Democrats, who declined to revel in their clear victory, said they would work in good faith to strike a deal on border security. They have raised their offer on border security funding considerably and toughened their rhetoric on stopping illegal immigration.

the author

Matt is a student at Seton Hall Law School and graduated from Monmouth University. Matt has been studying and analyzing politics at all levels since the 2004 Presidential Election. He writes about political trends and demographics, the role of the media in politics, comparative politics, political theory, and the domestic and international political economy. Matt is also interested in history, philosophy, comparative religion, and record collecting.

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