President Trump on Friday announced a deal to temporarily end the longest government shutdown in U.S. history, capitulating — for now — on his demand for billions of taxpayer dollars to build a southern border wall.
A day after the Senate defeated competing proposals to reopen the government and as the financial pain from the shutdown spread across the nation, Trump on Friday said it was time to end a standoff he had defended only a day earlier.
The deal includes a three-week extension of government funding through Feb. 15 and an agreement to continue negotiations on border security, including the debate over the wall. Federal workers will receive back pay for the time they were furloughed.
"I will make sure all employees receive their back pay very quickly — or as soon as possible,” Trump said during a White House Rose Garden appearance.
The agreement — which largely mirrors what Democrats have been suggesting — came as three major East Coast airports reported slowdowns Friday due to unpaid air traffic controllers calling in sick.
Trump instigated the shutdown, which began Dec. 22, by refusing to sign any government spending bills unless he received $5.7 billion for a wall.
More than 800,000 federal workers were due to miss their second paycheck since the shutdown began.
Most public opinion polls increasingly put the blame for the shutdown squarely on Trump, who boasted before it began that he would happily accept full responsibility because he believed building a wall was vital to protecting the U.S.-Mexico border.
Democrats accused Trump of holding the government “hostage” to fulfill his major campaign promise. They said border security can be enhanced without a wall.
According to a senior administration official, word rippled through the White House complex Friday morning that "something was shaking."
The realization that it was time to reopen the government, despite not having achieved any of the president's desired funding for a border wall, came as the result of new pressures as the shutdown's impact became more deeply felt.
"Friday is payday," said the official, who also pointed to the delays at major airports and similar issues at the IRS, where employees assigned to process refund checks were not reporting for work.
Trump’s about-face came just a day after the White House said that any temporary funding measure must also come with a “large down payment” on the wall.
There is no assurance that the deal won’t result in another government shutdown when the new funding measure expires, a point that worries some lawmakers.
“We just have to operate in good faith,” said Sen, Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.).
Times staff writers Eli Stokols and Sarah D. Wire contributed to this report.