Trump Drops Wall-Funding Demand to Reopen Government

President Donald Trump delivers remarks in the Rose Garden of the White House on Jan 25, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

WASHINGTON (CN) – Congress on Friday approved a short-term funding bill to end the partial government shutdown, after leadership and the White House struck a three-week funding agreement that does not include money for President Donald Trump’s border wall. 

Trump said lawmakers will use the Feb. 15 deadline to negotiate over a border-security package.

Speaking Friday afternoon from the Rose Garden at the White House, the president talked at length about the necessity for a wall, though he acknowledged he does not want a structure spanning the entire U.S.-Mexico border and said technology must complement any physical structure.

Trump said if Congress cannot reach an agreement that includes funding for a border-security package, he will take executive action to move the project forward on his own.

“If we don’t get a fair deal from Congress, the government will either shut down on Feb. 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.

Speaking on the Senate floor shortly after Trump’s announcement, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said after passing the short-term plan to reopen the government, the Senate will pass a bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security.

That will send the fight over border wall funding to a conference committee, the forum in which lawmakers hammer out differences in bills that passed the House and Senate separately.

The Senate approved both the short-term spending bill and the Department of Homeland Security package unanimously on Friday afternoon. The House passed the package shortly after.

“Going forward, I hope our Democratic friends will stay true to the commitment they’ve stated constantly over the past weeks, that once government was reopened, they’d be perfectly willing to negotiate in good faith on full-year government funding that would include a significant investment in urgently needed border security measures, including physical barriers,” McConnell said on the Senate floor.

He continued, “After all, the only way the federal workers are going to have stability and certainty beyond the next three weeks, the only way our border is going to have real security, is if Democrats will stop playing partisan games and get serious about negotiating with the president on a long-term compromise.”

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., was optimistic in a speech Friday that both sides will be able to come to an agreement, even though Democrats oppose the wall.

“I believe there’s good faith on both sides to reach an agreement and we will work diligently to achieve one,” Schumer said.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi was similarly confident Friday that the conference committee will be able to reach an agreement satisfying to all involved.

“I can’t assure the public on anything that the president will do, but I do have to say I’m optimistic,” Pelosi told reporters. “I see every challenge or every crisis as an opportunity, an opportunity to do the right thing for the American people and at the same time make people aware of what the decisions are that we have here and hopefully that will make everybody come together in a way that is unifying for our country.”

The deal comes the day after two proposals to reopen the government, one offered by Republicans and another by Democrats, failed in the Senate.

Since funding for the government lapsed on Dec. 22, Friday marked the second missed paycheck in a row for hundreds of thousands of federal workers. Many federal employees have worked without pay during the shutdown, spawning a string of federal lawsuits.

Congress and Trump have already approved a plan to give back pay to employees who have been impacted by the shutdown.

Earlier Friday, the Federal Aviation Administration blamed the 35-day shutdown with causing delays in air travel.

Reporting a “slight increase in sick leave” at offices in Jacksonville, Florida, and in Washington, D.C., that control high-altitude air traffic over seven states, FAA spokesman Gregory Martin said that the agency had boosted staffing, rerouted traffic and increased spacing between planes as needed.

LaGuardia Airport in New York and Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey were both experiencing takeoff delays this morning.

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