President Donald Trump today endorsed a continuing resolution that would end the partial government shutdown. The legislation does not provide any of the $5.7 billion the president had demanded for a wall on the U.S.–Mexico border. Instead it will reopen the government for three weeks, giving Trump and lawmakers time to negotiate a more permanent deal.
"We have reached a deal to end the shutdown and reopen the federal government," Trump said from the White House Rose Garden. He alluded to his ability to secure border wall funds by declaring a national emergency, but said he would prefer not to do so. Still, he suggested he might declare one if Congress does not allocate border wall money by February 15.
Trump's announcement comes on the 35th day of the partial shutdown. Roughly 800,000 federal workers have been either furloughed or working without pay. Capitol Hill sources tell The Daily Beast that reports of closed terminals at LaGuardia Airport—a result of an air traffic controller shortage—spurred lawmakers to start talking in earnest. The air traffic control issue was also a contributing factor in Trump deciding to end the shutdown, a White House official tells CNN's Jeff Zeleny.
Republicans and Democrats in Congress have been trying to reach a deal for weeks. Yesterday, the Senate voted on two proposals to end the shutdown, both of which failed. A Republican-backed plan would have funded the government and provided Trump with his border wall money. A Democrat-supported proposal would have funded the government for two weeks without allocating any money for the wall.
In the end, it was almost certainly going to come down to Trump. Before today, the president rejected any proposal that didn't include wall funding. Considering the slim chances that two-thirds of both the House and the Senate could come together to override a presidential veto, Trump was going to have the final say.
It's hard to see Trump's move as anything other than a fold. Trump had insisted on border wall funding, but for now at least he's not going to get it.
But that's a good thing. Trump's border wall is a bad idea for many reasons. (You can read about some of them here.) And as Reason's Eric Boehm noted yesterday, the shutdown has done nothing to actually reduce the federal government's power or cost. If anything, it's had devastating effects in areas the government shouldn't be involved in, such as air traffic control and beer-labeling.
Despite the deal, this saga is far from over. Lawmakers and Trump have yet to strike a permanent deal. It will be interesting to see how negotiations play out over the next three weeks, and whether Trump actually gets any money for the wall.