Donald Trump speaks from the Rose Garden of the White House, January 25, 2019
Under pressure from Republican senators, Donald Trump caves and suspends his 35-day Trump Shutdown, without receiving a penny of the $5.7 billion he is demanding for his $25 billion Wall with Mexico.
As late as Thursday, Trump was sticking to his closure of nine Federal Government agencies, despite the damage to about 800,000 unpaid employees; millions of Americans affected by threats to tax refunds, food stamps, security, farm subsidies, national parks, prisons, disaster prevention, and other services; and loss of revenues for Government contractors.
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On Thursday, Senate Republicans blocked the 10th attempt by the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives to reopen the government while providing money for border security and pursuing talks on immigration. But six GOP senators joined the Democrats, and a lunch in Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office turned into a grilling of Vice President Mike Pence.
Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, one of the six GOP senators who crossed the aisle, said yesterday, “None of us are willing to go through this again. And it’s not just a few of us. There are a great many in our conference that feel pretty strongly.”
Early Friday morning, Trump sought the declaration of a national emergency alongside any agreement to reopen the government, but McConnell and White House officials encouraged him to drop the idea.
So on Friday afternoon Trump accepted the measure he has rejected ever since he closed the government on December 21, accepting that no money would be forthcoming for The Wall, at least in the short term. The House and the Senate immediately passed a stop-gap spending bill by voice vote, funding agencies until February 15.
But Trump still tried to hold a threat over the heads of Congress and affected Americans. After a rambling attack on migrants filled with falsehoods, he said at the end of his Rose Garden address that he could renew the shutdown or even announce the national emergency if he didn’t like the outcome of talks:
We really have no choice but to build a powerful wall or steel barrier. If we don’t get a fair deal from Congress, the government will either shut down on Feb. 15, or I will use the powers afforded to me under the laws and Constitution of the United States to address this emergency.
He followed up on Twitter on Friday night:
I wish people would read or listen to my words on the Border Wall. This was in no way a concession. It was taking care of millions of people who were getting badly hurt by the Shutdown with the understanding that in 21 days, if no deal is done, it’s off to the races!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 26, 2019
Giving Way to a Growing Crisis
Trump’s sudden statement followed a series of crisis signals on Friday. Federal workers missed a second paycheck. There were flight delays in the northeastern US as air traffic controllers called. Hundreds of workers at the Internal Revenue Service, needed to process tax returns, refused the order to return to unpaid work. FBI Director Christopher Wray issued a rare condemnation of the political leadership, in a video message to staff.
Trump promised to ensure that workers would be compensated for lost pay “very quickly or as soon as possible.” However, many federal contractors do not expect to be repaid, and the US economy has slowed, losing at than the $5.7 billion Trump was seeking.
Speaking after Trump’s statement, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said there would be no compromise to fund Trump’s Wall: “Have I not been clear?” She said Trump’s State of the Union address, cancelled because of the shutdown, would not be rescheduled for Tuesday.