President Trump signed a bill Friday night to reopen the federal government for three weeks, officially ending the shutdown stalemate that left hundreds of thousands of federal employees without pay.
The House and Senate passed the continuing resolution (CR) to fund the government at previous levels by unanimous consent on Friday evening. The president announced he would support reopening the government for three weeks, without border wall funding, in a surprise announcement Friday afternoon.
“I am very proud to announce that we have reached a deal to end the shutdown and reopen the federal government,” Mr. Trump said in an address from the White House Rose Garden, adding that he had the opportunity to declare a national emergency to build the wall but decided not to do so at this time. He also thanked the federal workers who had been furloughed or working without pay.
“In many cases you encouraged me to keep going because you care so much about our country and our border security,” he said to federal workers. He said federal workers would receive back pay “very quickly,” or “almost immediately.”
The CR, which contains seven temporary funding bills for the remaining departments that have not yet been funded for 2019, also includes a furloughed employees back-pay provision.
The House and Senate also voted to establish a bicameral, bipartisan conference committee to negotiate funding for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The conference will include Republican Sens. Richard Shelby, Shelley Moor Capito, John Hoeven and Roy Blunt, as well as Democratic Sens. Patrick Leahy, Dick Durbin and John Tester.
The president said that he expects Democrats and Republicans to cooperate on a bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security, although he reiterated that building a wall was important to border security.
“I really feel that in working with Democrats and Republicans, we can make a truly great and secure deal for everyone,” he said. “Walls should not be controversial.” He added that the wall he wanted to build were not “medieval,” as Democrats have contended, but that it would be a “smart wall.”
“We do not need 2,000 miles of concrete wall from sea to shining sea,” Mr. Trump said, although he has previously explicitly supported a concrete wall. However, he said that the wall he supports would be made of steel and see-through. He then discussed illegal immigration in stark terms to justify why the wall was needed.
But the president isn’t ruling out a national emergency if Congress can’t reach a deal in the next three weeks.
“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,” the president told reporters later in the afternoon.
The president announced the deal as the government shutdown reached its 35th day, the longest in American history. Around 800,000 federal workers missed their second paycheck this week, with roughly half of them working without pay. Several workers in critical agencies have been calling out sick due to financial difficulties.
Flights in and out New York City’s LaGuardia airport were delayed on Friday morning due to staffing shortages among air traffic controllers, according to a notice issued by the Federal Aviation Administration. Elsewhere, a flight was canceled due to a lack of sufficient TSA staff at the Monroe Louisiana airport Friday morning.
In his White House remarks, the president said nothing about former campaign adviser and associate Roger Stone, who was indicted by the federal government, arrested early Friday and appeared in federal court.
Stone was indicted by a federal grand jury and arrested. The indictment, unsealed Friday, lists seven counts: one count of obstruction of an official proceeding; five counts of false statements; and one count of witness tampering. Stone made his first appearance in federal court Friday morning in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and was to be released on a $250,000 bond.
Mr. Trump tweeted a response to Stone’s indictment, questioning how CNN had obtained footage of the arrest. The CNN reporter said that its crew staked out Stone’s house Friday morning after reporters noticed unusual grand jury activity in Washington, D.C., on Thursday and thought something could happen.
“Greatest Witch Hunt in the History of our Country! NO COLLUSION! Border Coyotes, Drug Dealers and Human Traffickers are treated better. Who alerted CNN to be there?” Mr. Trump wrote.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said earlier on CNN that Stone’s arrest and court appearance was completely unrelated to Mr. Trump.