WASHINGTON — Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle breathed a sigh of relief Friday after President Donald Trump announced that a deal — that excludes border wall funding — had been reached to end the 35-day partial government shutdown that began in December.
Democrats blasted the president, arguing that he ultimately caved in negotiations that left him without his priority after allowing the shutdown to continue for more than a month.
“So Trump is agreeing to the EXACT SAME DEAL he rejected 35 days ago. What a debacle. I’m so so sorry, America,” tweeted Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., on Friday.
“We could have passed this deal yesterday or on Dec. 22, and 800,000 workers could have gotten paid today. Instead Donald Trump waited until things got even worse,” tweeted Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass.
“How pathetic. On Dec. 19, the Senate unanimously passed essentially the same legislation that we will vote on today,” Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., tweeted. “We are back to exactly where we started. Thank you, Mr. President, for shutting down the government and holding 800,000 federal employees hostage. All for nothing!”
IRS worker Christine Helquist joins a federal workers protest rally outside the Federal Building, Thursday, Jan., 10, 2019, in Ogden, Utah. Payday will come Friday without any checks for about 800,000 federal employees affected by the government shutdown, forcing workers to scale back spending, cancel trips, apply for unemployment benefits and take out loans to stay afloat. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
IRS worker Angela Gran, center, and others participate in a federal workers protest rally outside the Federal Building, Thursday, Jan., 10, 2019, in Ogden, Utah. Payday will come Friday without any checks for about 800,000 federal employees affected by the government shutdown, forcing workers to scale back spending, cancel trips, apply for unemployment benefits and take out loans to stay afloat. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
Furloughed National Park Service ranger Kathryn Gilson, center, listens as fellow furloughed ranger Sean Ghazala, left, speaks to the media, Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019, during a press conference and rally at Staten Island’s La Colmena Center in New York. Ghazala is based at Manhattan’s African Burial Ground, and Gilson works at Gateway National Recreation Area, a national park encompassing wetlands surrounding New York city and parts of New Jersey’s coastline. Gilson says she is home “bouncing off the walls” and worrying about paying her bills and student loan. Staten Island is a largely Republican borough of New York city, but Democrat Max Rose recently defeated his Republican opponent in the 2018 congressional elections. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
Other Democrats insisted the coming conference committee slated to discuss border security funding would not deliver additional resources for the president’s top priority.
“Individual 1 just folded on reckless #TrumpShutdown. We will reopen government shortly,” The chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., tweeted Friday. “Not a dime for his medieval border wall. @HouseDemocrats will always fight hard #ForThePeople.”
“I’ve seen a lot of Presidents take a victory lap before,” tweeted Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Mich. “But this is the first time I’ve seen a President go to the Rose Garden and take a defeat lap.”
Democratic leaders, meanwhile, avoided blanket language on the upcoming negotiations or declarations of victory — though Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. did tell reporters that Democrats remain “firmly against the wall.”
He added that he hoped the end of the process marked “a lesson learned for the White House and for many of our Republican colleagues. Shutting down the government over a policy difference is self-defeating. It accomplishes nothing but pain and suffering for the country and incurs an enormous political cost to the party shutting it down.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., deflected questions about whether the president had underestimated her politically, saying only that she was “optimistic” about what will result from negotiations over the next three weeks.
Schumer, however, chimed in and said, “No one should underestimate the speaker, as Donald Trump has learned.”
Pelosi added that a unified Democratic caucus had been the key to ending the shutdown standoff.
“Our unity is our power, and that may be what the president underestimated,” Pelosi said.
Many Republicans expressed support for the deal, saying it would give Congress time to negotiate a long-term solution.
“It’s long past time to open our government again. We all knew both sides were going to have to give to end this nightmare and stop the madness as the consequences grew worse by the hour. Let’s hope we can put humpty-dumpty together again in the next couple weeks,” Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., tweeted.
“The president has stepped up to the plate by agreeing to reopen the government and laying a framework for what is needed to secure our nation’s borders,” tweeted Rep. Don Bacon, R-Neb. “It is time for Speaker Pelosi and other Democrat leaders to negotiate in food faith a bi-partisan permanent solution that includes border security, along with funding for 234 miles of barriers along the border.”
House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows, R-N.C., an immigration hardliner, appeared to express similar wait-and-see sentiments Friday — despite being adamant in December that Trump not sign a similar bill to avert a shutdown altogether.
“Democrats now have yet another opportunity to come to the table and negotiate, where all Americans will be able to judge for themselves whether they’re truly serious about securing our border. If negotiations don’t result in a solution, executive action is still very much under consideration,” Meadows said Friday.
The agreement came as airports across the Northeast experienced major delays Friday morning as air traffic control dealt with a staffing shortage due to the partial government shutdown. The FAA said on its website that flights at LaGuardia Airport in New York City were being delayed nearly 90 minutes, and urged travelers to check the site to see if they are affected.
On Thursday, Trump had said that he was leaving the solution to the shutdown in the hands of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. and Schumer. After two competing bills to end the shutdown failed in the Senate, negotiations between the Senate leaders continued behind the scenes.
“If they come to a reasonable agreement I would support it,” the president said, adding then that he still had “other alternatives.”
McConnell said after Trump announced the news that “with cooperation” both the House and Senate will send a continuing resolution to reopen the government to Trump’s desk Friday.