The partial government shutdown, now in its 35th day, will soon be over. Whether a new one will begin in 21 days, however, remains a possibility.
President Trump on Friday announced from the White House that he and congressional leaders had reached a deal to reopen the government. He pledged to sign a three-week continuing resolution that, importantly, does not include additional funding for Trump’s beloved border wall. As part of the agreement, however, lawmakers will use the time to try to hash out a larger deal on immigration and border security. That, of course, is easier said than done; they’ll have just weeks to come to a comprehensive agreement that has eluded Washington for years.
Trump suggested that if lawmakers fail to come up with a long-term deal that includes significant funding for “a wall, physical barrier, strong fence, whatever you want to call it,” he will then either force another shutdown or use a national emergency declaration to build the wall without congressional approval. “No border security plan can ever work without a physical barrier—it just doesn’t happen,” the president said at the White House. Any border-related national emergency declaration would almost certainly be challenged in federal court.
Trump tried to spin this deal as a victory during his Rose Garden speech—at least when he wasn’t going off-script to fearmonger about crimes committed with the aid of duct tape—but he was unable to cite anything he gained by keeping parts of the government shuttered for five weeks. This is, in short, a cave by Trump. He had previously been steadfast in his demand that any funding deal, short-term or not, include significant funding for the wall. In fact, this stop-gap funding bill is pretty much the same deal Democratic leaders have been pushing for weeks—Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer were adamant that they would not negotiate while Trump held the federal government hostage—and is more or less the same one Trump and Republicans had agreed to prior to the shutdown, before he changed his mind under pressure from the Ann Coulters of the world.
What changed Trump’s mind this time? Take your pick: Mounting pressure over delays at airports and sickouts at the IRS; an American public who increasingly blamed him for the shutdown; major cracks in his support from Senate Republicans; his desire to give a primetime State of the Union; and/or a need to change the subject from the indictment of his long-time political adviser Roger Stone, the latest person from his campaign to be caught up in Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.