President Donald Trump said Friday that the administration and Congress reached a deal to temporarily reopen the government after 35 days, the longest government shutdown in U.S. history.
“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 outside the White House.
The deal—which does not include funding for a border wall—will reopen the government for three weeks, until Feb. 15. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is expected to put the legislation to vote soon.
“I want to thank all of the incredible federal workers and their amazing families who have shown such extraordinary devotion in the face of this recent hardship,” said Trump, adding that these workers will receive back pay as soon as possible.
Since Congress failed to fully fund the government on Dec. 22, roughly 800,000 federal workers have been furloughed or working without pay. Some have been forced to find part-time jobs to get by. Others have relied on support programs like food banks to feed their families as weeks of missed paychecks slipped by.
“I am so proud you are citizens of our country. When I say ‘Make America Great Again,’ it could never be done without you,” Trump said of the federal workers.
“Many of you have suffered far greater than anyone but your families would know or understand,” he added. “Not only did you not complain, but in many cases, you encouraged me to keep going because you care so much about our country and about its border security.”
The title issue of the government shutdown was Trump’s desire to fulfill his campaign promise for a border wall, which was estimated to cost around $5.7 billion. Democrats, holding the House majority, refused to agree to any deal that included funding for the wall, although they agreed to support general border security.
“They have said they are for complete border security,” Trump said of the negotiations with Democrats, “and they have finally and fully acknowledged that having barriers, fences or walls, or whatever you call it will be an important part of the solution.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has repeatedly called Trump’s proposition for a wall “wasteful and ineffective,” and Democratic leadership continues to deny support for the wall.
“We don’t agree on some of the specifics of border security. Democrats are against the wall,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Friday, “but we agree on many things, such as the need for new technology, and the need to strengthen security at our ports of entry, and that bodes well for coming to an eventual agreement.”
The deal was a surprising turnaround for Trump, who insisted for five weeks he wouldn’t reopen the government without border wall funding. He apparently caved in as federal employees became irate, his job approval sank and air travel experienced setbacks with major delays at airports.
“It’s sad though that it’s taken this long to come to an obvious conclusion,” said Pelosi of the resolution, speaking to reporters Friday.
The Senate could vote on the legislation as early as Friday. The House would need to pass it as well, meaning representatives would have to come back to Washington to vote.
Trump said a bipartisan committee would immediately begin reviewing the requests of Homeland Security experts and law enforcement.
“Over the next 21 days, I expect Democrats and Republicans to operate in good faith,” said Trump. “This is an opportunity for all parties to work together for our whole, beautiful, wonderful nation.”