Trump Signs Bill to Reopen the Government Temporarily

Allen Zhong
By Allen Zhong
January 25, 2019Politics
Trump Signs Bill to Reopen the Government Temporarily
Capitol Hill in Washington, on Sept. 22, 2017. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)

President Trump has signed a bill to reopen the federal government for three weeks until February 15 after it passed through both the Senate and House of Representatives.

Earlier in the day, the president announced that a deal has been reached, 36 days after a partial shutdown began in December due to a standoff between the president and Democratic leaders over funding for a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Trump re-open government
President Donald Trump speaks about a deal reached to reopen the government, at the White House in Washington, on Jan. 25, 2018. (Charlotte Cuthbertson/Epoch Times)

Shortly after the president’s announcement, the Senate passed a bill to reopen the government through a voice vote without opposition.

The Senate also passed a separate bill appointing seven senators, including four Republicans and three Democrats, as members of the conference committee, which will negotiate a border security agreement between Congress and the White House over the next three weeks.

The seven conference committee members from the Senate include Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), and Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.).

The House aligned with the Senate and passed the stopgap spending bill via unanimous consent.

Furloughed Workers Will Be Back Paid

The reopening the government means 800,000 federal workers will receive the pay they missed during the longest furlough in U.S. history.

The White House is promising to pay once-furloughed federal workers as soon as possible after the partial government shutdown ends. However, a senior official said agencies are responsible for their own payroll issues and workers should check with their respective departments for details on when their paychecks will arrive.

Trump praised the federal workers and their families as “incredible patriots” and “amazing,” during a speech at the White House earlier in the day.

“I want to thank all of the incredible federal workers and their amazing families who have shown such extraordinary devotion in the face of this recent hardship,” said Trump. “Many of you have suffered far greater than anyone but your families would know or understand … You [did] not complain.”

“I will make sure that all employees receive their back pay very quickly or as soon as possible. It will happen fast,” he added.

Trump Wants ‘Fair Deal’ From Congress

Trump is demanding $5.7 billion in funding for a border wall, his signature campaign promise. Those funds are part of a comprehensive border security package requested by experts from the Department of Homeland Security. The package includes funding for more border patrol agents, immigration judges, and scanning equipment at ports of entry.

border wall construction
A construction crew installs new sections of the U.S.-Mexico border barrier replacing smaller fences on Jan. 11, 2019 as seen from Tijuana, Mexico. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

The president stressed in his announcements that the situation on the southern border is a serious threat to national security, pointing to the massive flow of illicit drugs, gangs, and human trafficking.

“If we don’t get a fair deal from Congress, the government will either shut down on Feb. 15, again, or I will use the powers afforded to me under the laws and Constitution of the United States to address this emergency,” Trump said.

Nancy Pelosi
Speaker of the House Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) speaks during a weekly news conference at Capitol Hill in Washington, on Jan. 17, 2019. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Democratic leaders in Congress have refused to negotiate funding for a border wall while the government is closed. Trump’s move is a temporary concession that returns the spotlight to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).

After Trump’s announcement and at a joint press conference with Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Pelosi, who has said repeatedly she will not approve money for the border wall, said: “Have I not been clear? No, I have been very clear.”

In addition to this, Schumer said while Democrats oppose the wall money, they agree on other ways to secure the border and “that bodes well for coming to an eventual agreement.”

The Associated Press and Epoch Times reporter Ivan Pentchoukov contributed to this report.

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