A deal involving President Donald Trump and congressional leaders will temporarily reopen the government.
On Friday, the president announced a deal that will restart shutdown agencies of the government while talks continue on his demand for wall money.
If a “fair deal” does not emerge by Feb.15, Trump said, there could be another shutdown or he would declare a national emergency — a move that could allow him to direct the military to build the wall without congressional consent. But such an action would likely face an immediate legal challenge.
The plan includes none of the money for the wall that he demanded and is essentially the same approach that Trump rejected at the end of December.
“We really have no choice but to build a powerful wall or steel barrier,” Trump said in his talk in the Rose Garden. “If we don’t get a fair deal from Congress, the government will either shut down on Feb. 15, or I will use the power afforded to me under the laws and Constitution of the United States to address this emergency.”
The cease-fire could make it possible for the president to deliver his State of the Union address to Congress after all, but Speaker Nancy Pelosi said it would not be held on Jan. 29, as originally scheduled.
“The State of the Union is not planned now,” Pelosi said. “When government is open, we will discuss a mutually agreeable date.”
In announcing the change, Trump paid tribute to the federal workers who have endured five weeks without pay, expressing sympathy for them in a way he had not previously spoken about.
“You are fantastic people,” he said. “You are incredible patriots. Many of you have suffered far greater than anyone that your families would know or understand.”
He promised to ensure that workers will be compensated for the paychecks they have missed since the shutdown began in late December.
“I will make sure that all employees receive their back-pay very quickly or as soon as possible,” he said. “It will happen fast.”
The issue of Trump’s request for $5.7 billion for a U.S.-Mexico border wall will be discussed during the interim.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who represents East Kern County and a portion of Los Angeles County in the Antelope Valley, said he believes Trump’s threat of another shutdown is credible.
“I believe it i,” he said. “I hope calmer heads will prevail here.”
Trump said he was asking Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, to put legislation on the floor immediately to implement the deal.
The impetus to reach a solution had clearly increased among lawmakers of both parties in recent days, as the multiplying effects of the shutdown have become much more apparent — particularly among the 800,000 federal employees financially hit by the no-paydays shutdown.
There were reports Friday of significant delays at key airports in the northeast because of absences of unpaid air traffic controllers.
Federal officials temporarily restricted flights in and out of New York’s La Guardia Airport, while travelers were grounded for extended periods in other cities, including Newark and Philadelphia.
The Internal Revenue Service was rocked by the shutdown. At least 14,000 unpaid workers in the IRS division that includes tax processing and call centers, did not slow up for work this past week, despite orders to do so, according to two House aides.
The vast number of federal workers who were affected are not likely to vote for politicians that they blame for the payless weeks.
It’s absolutely vital that government stays open and running year-round. Americans across the land deserve to have competent federal employees that we pay for with our taxes.