President Donald Trump announced on Friday a short-term deal to temporarily reopen the government, ending the longest closure in U.S. history.
The stop-gap agreement with congressional leaders will last three weeks, until Feb. 15, and would allow talks to continue over security and a wall on the southern border. It includes no new money for his wall.
“In a short while, I will sign a bill to reopen the government for three weeks until Feb. 15,” Trump said in the White House Rose Garden. “I will make sure that all employees receive their back pay very quickly or as soon as possible.”
Trump spent much of his remarks touting the benefits of a wall and he threatened to use his national emergency powers if he doesn’t get what he wants.
“We really have no choice but to build a powerful wall or a steel barrier,” Trump said. “If we don’t get a fair deal from Congress, the government will either shut down again on Feb. 15, or I will use the powers afforded to me under the laws and the Constitution of the United States to address this emergency.”
Those rarely used powers might allow the president to use money to build the wall without receiving congressional authorization.
Still, the stop-gap deal marks a massive concession on behalf of the president who first refused a similar funding package a month ago.
Trump announced the deal 35 days into the longest-ever partial government closure that has left an estimated 800,000 federal employees without pay and created a host of problems.
On Thursday, the president said that if Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., were about to reach a reasonable agreement to end the shutdown, he would support it.
The shutdown began just before Christmas and has left approximately 400,000 workers home from work without pay, while another 400,000 were required to be on the job without pay. The workers will receive back pay, under the agreement.
Trump thanked federal employees and their families in his remarks in the Rose Garden.
“Again, I thank you, all Americans, I thank you, you are very, very special people,” the president said.
Trump and congressional Democrats have been at a standoff over the president’s demand for $5.7 billion to build his wall along the southern border.
Following the November midterms that saw Democrats retake the House of Representatives, the president called for billions to build the border wall he put at the heart of his presidential campaign.
Democrats refused and the acrimonious feud raged for weeks, with each side blaming the other. Trump delivered a prime-time address decrying a “growing humanitarian and security crisis” on the border, and House Speaker Rep. Nancy Pelosi postponed his State of the Union address citing security concerns caused by the shutdown. Trump in turn cancelled an international trip planned by the Speaker.
As the shutdown bore on, polls found that more Americans were blaming the president and his numbers began to slip.
Problems across the country have mounted for weeks: Security lines at airports grew as TSA workers called out sick, and on Friday, airports across the Northeast experienced major delays as air traffic control grappled with staff shortages amid the shutdown.
Law enforcement operations also were delayed and court proceedings stalled. National Parks, museums, and federally funded institutions have closed their doors, too.
The announcement comes amid a chaotic news day after former Trump adviser Roger Stone was indicted early in the morning, telling reporters later that he was falsely accused.