U.S. President Donald Trump endorsed a three-week spending bill Friday, clearing the way for Congress to pass legislation ending the longest government shutdown in U.S. history.
“After 36 days of spirited debate and dialogue, I see that Democrats and Republicans are willing to put partisanship aside, I think, and put the American people first,” Trump said in a Rose Garden announcement. “This is an opportunity for all parties to work together for the benefit of this beautiful nation.”
The bill funding the government through February 15th does not include money for the construction of Trump’s proposed U.S.-Mexico border wall. The president said that a bipartisan committee would be formed in the meantime to evaluate border security, but, contrary to previous claims, he was not asking for a concrete wall along the entire U.S.-Mexico border.
"We do not need 2,000 miles of concrete wall from sea to shining sea. We never proposed that," he said.
The announcement comes on the 35th day of the shutdown, when roughly 800,000 federal employees will miss their second consecutive paycheck. It also came shortly after incoming flights to New York's LaGuardia Airport were delayed due to staffing issues, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. The FAA also said that departure delays at LaGuardia, as well as Philadelphia and Newark airports, are due to air traffic control staffing shortages.
Trump’s announcement reverses his position from Thursday, when he said he would accept a deal to at least temporarily re-open the federal government if it contained a "pro-rated downpayment" on the U.S.-Mexico border wall he has sought.
“It’s just common sense, walls work,” Trump said Friday, arguing the barrier would keep out criminals, human traffickers and drugs.
'Powerful alternative' not used
In an apparent reference to reports he was considering declaring a national emergency at the border, Trump said he had “a very powerful alternative” but chose not to use it. He said that option was still on the table if Congress could not come to an agreement within the three-week funding period.
The U.S. Senate is expected to take up the short-term spending measure as early as Friday.
A growing number of lawmakers of both parties have said compromise is the only way to end the political stalemate and reopen the government.
"It is long overdue for all sides to come together, to engage in constructive debate and compromise to end this standoff," Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins said. "Shutdowns represent the ultimate failure to govern and should never be used as a weapon to achieve an outcome."
The shutdown has furloughed 800,000 government employees, with at least 420,000 forced to continue working without pay, and the remainder sent home, some of whom have been forced to look for temporary work elsewhere to help pay their household bills. All are set to miss their second biweekly paycheck on Friday.
Some government services have been curtailed, as about 10 percent of airport security agents ordered to work have instead called in sick, some food inspections have been cut back, and museums and parks are closed. Federal courts warned they could run out of money by the end of the month.