President Donald Trump and Congress have reached a deal to reopen the government, which has been shut down for 35 days as the White House and congressional Democrats clash over border wall funding.
The two sides have agreed to a “clean” continuing resolution that would fund the government for three weeks and does not include border wall funding. It would provide back pay for 800,000 government workers. The Trump administration and Congress would continue their debate about border security. In an address from the Rose Garden, the president asked Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to put the measure to a vote immediately.
President Trump expressed optimism that Republicans and Democrats could come together on a solution for border security within the next three weeks. He repeated his desire to build a border wall. “Walls should not be controversial… every career border patrol agent has told me that walls work… they keep criminals out.” The president added that it would be a “smart wall,” not a “medieval” wall.
To conclude the speech, President Trump stated that the government would shut down again if a border security deal is not reached by February 15. He also suggested that at that point, he would “use the powers afforded to me under the laws and the constitution of the United States to address this emergency. We will have great security.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke about the deal as well. Senator Schumer thanked said it allows Republicans and Democrats to discuss border security “without holding hundreds of thousands of American workers hostage.” Speaker Pelosi added that House Democrats look forward to the bipartisan negotiations ahead.
This resolution ends the longest government shutdown in U.S. history. How did we get here?
Here’s what you need to know.
1. The Senate Voted on Two Separate Resolutions on January 24 to End the Shutdown; Both Failed, But the Temporary Spending Bill Promoted by Democrats Received More Votes Than the Republican Proposal
The House has voted on and passed multiple resolutions to reopen the government, but the Senate had largely remained on the sidelines. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell previously stated that he would not bring a measure to the floor unless he knew ahead of time that President Trump would sign it.
On January 24, the 34th day of the partial government shutdown, the Senate voted on two separate proposals, both of which failed. The first vote was on a bill that would have included $5.7 billion for a border wall. It also would have extended protections for DACA recipients for three years, and put restrictions on refugees requesting asylum. It failed by a vote of 50 to 47. One Democrat, Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, voted with Republicans to support it. Two Republicans, Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Senator Mike Lee of Utah, voted against the measure.
Next, the Senate considered a temporary spending bill put forward by Democrats. It would reopen the government by providing two weeks worth of funding. It did not include funding for a border wall. The final vote was 52 to 44. Every Democrat voted in support of the bill, along with six Republicans: Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Senator Susan Collins of Maine, Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado, Senator Johnny Isakson of Georgia, Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and Senator Mitt Romney of Utah.
2. After Exchanging Testy Letters With House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, President Trump Agreed to Postpone the State of the Union Address Until After the Shutdown Was Over
President Trump had been looking forward to giving the annual State of the Union address on Tuesday, January 29. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi suggested, via an official letter on January 16, that the speech be postponed until after the government was reopened. She cited security concerns. Secret Service agents are among those federal workers not receiving payments while the stalemate drags on.
President Trump first responded by canceling her overseas trip to visit troops in Afghanistan and suggested she travel commercially.
Then on January 23, the president sent Speaker Pelosi a letter stating that he would deliver the State of the Union address as scheduled. But Pelosi fired back, saying that she would block him from giving the speech on the House floor. The typical process is for the House to pass a concurrent resolution calling for a joint session of Congress; the House also needs to be “in session” for cameras to be rolling and Speaker Pelosi is the person to bring the House to order. You can read the letters in full here.
President Trump ended the argument later that same day. He posted on Twitter that he would do the address once the shutdown was over and would not look for an alternative venue.
3. Senate Republicans Had Increased Pressure on the Trump Administration to End the Shutdown
Vice President Mike Pence has been a key figure in trying to work out some sort of resolution with lawmakers. And he reportedly received an earful from members of his own party during a closed-door meeting on January 24, shortly after the Senate failed to pass the first resolution to fund the government, which would have included border wall funding.
Republican senators, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, stressed to the vice president that the shutdown should never have happened in the first place. The Washington Post also reported that the senators were fighting amongst themselves as well. Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin reportedly told McConnell, “This is your fault.” Sen. McConnell reportedly fired back, “Are you suggesting I’m enjoying this?”
At the luncheon, Vice President Pence reportedly encourages Republicans to stay unified. But as referenced above, six GOP senators defected and went on to support the Democrats’ proposal for a temporary spending bill.
4. A Poll Showed 3 in 4 Americans Feel That the Shutdown is an Emergency; Trump’s Approval Rating Has Ticked Down Since the Shutdown Began
Recent polls have shown that a slight majority of Americans hold President Trump responsible for the government shutdown. Fox News released a new poll on January 23 that showed that a vast majority of American view the partial government shutdown as an emergency. You can see the full results of the poll embedded above.
According to the Fox News poll, 75 percent of those surveyed described the shutdown as a “major problem or emergency.” By comparison, 59 percent responded that the border constituted a major problem or emergency. The poll also asked, “Do you favor or oppose building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border?” 51 percent oppose it while 43 percent support it.
51 percent blame President Trump for the government shutdown. 34 percent place the blame on congressional Democrats while just 3 percent hold Republicans responsible. 9 percent responded that all of them were to blame.
President Trump’s approval rating ticked down since the shutdown began. 43 percent approve of his job performance, while 54 percent of respondents said they disapproved.
Fox News also asked respondents to rate how frustrated they were with these government leaders. 53 percent responded that they were extremely or very frustrated with President Trump; 51 percent felt that way about congressional Republicans; 47 percent feel that way about Democrats.
This Fox News poll was taken after President Trump had addressed the nation twice. In both of those speeches, he talked about drugs coming into the United States, described a humanitarian crisis at the border that put immigrant women and children at risk, and stressed that a border wall would “pay for itself.”
5. The Current Shutdown is the Longest in American History; President Trump Said On-Camera in the Oval Office That He Was ‘Proud’ to Shut Down the Government For Border Security
President Trump, Nancy Pelosi, and Chuck Schumer had an exchange in the Oval Office on December 11, 2018, that quickly went viral. The three had a debate about border security in front of members of the press pool. The exchange is embedded above.
During this on-camera conversation, President Trump took ownership of the impending shutdown. Minority Leader Schumer stated, “we do not want to shut down the government. You have called 20 times to shut down the government… we don’t. We want to come to an agreement.” President Trump responded that he would not sign any agreement that did not include “good border security.” The president added that he would be “proud” to shut down the government for border security and that he wouldn’t blame Democrats for it.
As the shutdown dragged on, President Trump suggested that he could declare a national emergency to obtain funds for building a border wall. According to CNN, the White House prepared a draft that included where the president could get $7 billion for a border wall. The plan reportedly included getting $3.6 billion from military construction funds and $3 billion from the Pentagon’s civil works funds.
Analysts have predicted that such a declaration would likely face a court challenge. Trump allies, and his legal team, reportedly advised caution on this front.
The government shut down on Saturday, December 22, 2018. As of January 25, the shutdown had reached a 35th day. It is the longest government shutdown in American history. The second-longest shutdown occurred during President Bill Clinton’s administration, between December 1995 and January 1996.
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