WASHINGTON — President Trump signed a bill Friday night to fund the government for three weeks that doesn't include money to build a wall.
This is a significant climbdown for Trump, who has insisted he will not sign any bill into law unless it includes billions of dollars in wall funding. While the deal only reopens the government through February 15 it will allow 800,000 federal workers to receive back pay for the past five weeks the government has been partially shut down.
The shutdown lasted 35 days — far and away the longest shutdown in American history. The Senate passed the deal to open the government unanimously Friday afternoon, sending it to the House where it was also passed unanimously. Trump signed the bill Friday night.
The House and Senate will go to conference to work out their differences on funding for the Department of Homeland Security, including border security and the president's request for money to build the wall.
Trump said that the two sides would continue to negotiate on a long-term spending deal and demanded that it must include money for “a powerful wall or steel barrier.” He threatened that otherwise he will declare a national emergency and use his executive powers to fund the wall without congressional approval.
“If we don’t get a fair deal from Congress, the government will either shut down on February 15 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.
Trump later told reporters more explicitly he would invoke a national emergency if Democrats don't agree to the wall. "We’ll work with the Democrats and negotiate and if we can’t do that, then we’ll do a— obviously we’ll do the emergency because that’s what it is. It’s a national emergency," he said.
The deal to temporarily reopen the government came hours after the Federal Aviation Authority temporarily halted all flights from landing at New York City’s LaGuardia Airport. Departure traffic was also delayed. The FAA cited staffing issues caused by the shutdown.
Delays also occurred at Newark airport in New Jersey, as well as Philadelphia’s airport, due to staffing problems at the Jacksonville and Washington Air Route Traffic Control Centers.
Pelosi said Friday that the agreement doesn't mean that Trump's State of the Union is back on for Jan. 29, however. She had cancelled the speech due to the shutdown. "What I'd said to the president is when government is open we will discuss a mutually agreeable date. And I'll look forward to doing that and welcoming the president to the House of Representatives when we agree on that mutual agreeable date," Pelosi told reporters.
Talks on temporarily reopening the government began Thursday afternoon after Trump’s plan and a Democratic proposal both failed in the Senate.
Trump’s bill contained $5.7 billion in border wall funding. Democrats had been pushing to open the government for less than three weeks to give workers a reprieve while negotiations continued on a full spending bill.
Though that proposal failed, it did kick-start conversations about a middle ground — a short-term bill that includes a “down payment,” as Republicans put it, on the wall. Democrats quickly rejected Trump’s demands for what they described as significant wall funding, and over the next 24 hours Trump walked back his position.
Democratic Rep. Nita Lowey, who chairs the House Appropriations Committee which crafts bills to fund the government, said in a statement Friday, "It is sad that it took 35 days of inflicting pain and misery on Americans for President Trump and Republicans to come to their senses and agree to this solution, but it is better late than never."
This post has been updated to reflect a spending bill passed both the House and the Senate.