On Friday afternoon, news broke that an agreement had been reached by both parties to halt the partial government shutdown for three weeks, until Feb. 15, while the issue of border security and funding can be further negotiated. President Trump made the announcement from the White House around 2:15 pm ET declaring that the shutdown would be temporarily ended while negotiations over the border wall would be ongoing.
There is no denying that this move by the President is a nod at victory for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Congressional Democrats who dug in and refused to even consider any bill which would spend a dime on border wall funding. Polling continued to hammer the President, reflecting that in the eyes of the public the President was shouldering most of the blame for the shutdown.
According to the President, speaking in the Rose Garden at the White House, in exchange for agreeing to the temporary funding bill to re-open the government, Congress has agreed to work on a package of legislation aimed at addressing border security and national security in general.
The President concluded his remarks indicating that if an adequate deal could not be reached in the 3-week period to provide border wall funding in some form, then he was prepared to attempt using his executive power to declare a national emergency and direct defense funds to the construction of a border wall.
The federal government has been in partial shutdown state since December 22 when the prior funding bill expired and Congressional leaders were unable to come to an agreement with President Trump over border wall funding.
Report from the Washington Post:
Congressional leaders and President Trump have reached a tentative deal to temporarily reopen the government and continue talks on Trump’s demand for border wall money, Capitol Hill officials said Friday.
With Trump’s approval, the pact would reopen shuttered government departments for three weeks while leaving the issue of $5.7 billion for the U.S.-Mexico border wall to further talks.
Just days ago, the President said that the shutdown could go on for months, even years, possibly. What changed since that time? Stories like this from Friday morning probably weren’t helping the President’s cause and complaints from GOP leaders in Congress likely became too loud to ignore:
The federal government shutdown is being blamed for flight delays at major airports in New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Orlando and Atlanta, due to staffing shortages at critical air traffic control centers.
Flights at LaGuardia, Newark Liberty International and Philadelphia International airports were delayed Friday morning by less than an hour, on average, according to the FAA. Orlando International Airport and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport saw similar lags, the agency reported.
Staffing issues at air traffic control centers around Washington and Jacksonville, Florida, caused delays across the Northeast, an official with knowledge of the situation told CNN.
The delays are directly attributable to the partial government shutdown, said Trish Gilbert, executive vice president of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association.
“You can’t mess with a system that is so integral to the United States,” she told CNN Friday. “This is reckless, what has been going on with the shutdown.”
In general, the voting public supports increased border security, but they don’t support it at the expense of hampering other government services, namely critical services like air traffic control while workers go unpaid and, as a result, stop reporting for work. In this situation, lives could actually be put at risk if these kinds of services are not fully funded and operational.
The government can shut down for a week, maybe even two weeks, without many people noticing. However, the number of unpaid workers still required to report for their government jobs, such as air traffic control, will eventually take a toll as those workers begin to stay home.
A sample of polling from the Washington Examiner:
Most U.S. adults want President Trump to abandon his push for a border wall, and say House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., is doing a better job negotiating the dispute.
A new CBS poll says 71 percent of U.S. adults think the wall is “not worth the shutdown.” Only 28 percent say the shutdown is worth it to get the border wall.
Republicans are nearly split on that question: 56 percent say the wall is worth the shutdown, and 43 percent disagree.
Another majority, 61 percent, say the border can be secured without a wall, although Trump himself has said the wall can be a combination of physical barrier, fencing, and technology to help keep people out.
The poll said 66 percent of those asked want Trump to agree to a spending bill that includes no wall funding in order to reopen the government. Only 31 percent say Trump should continue to fight.
At the same time, a slim majority, 52 percent, said Democrats should agree to a spending bill that includes wall funding.
Voters don’t feel directly affected by a lack of a physical barrier at the border. They do, however, feel directly affected when flights start getting canceled and they hear reports that tax returns may be delayed. In the end, the price is simply too high for most voters, even if they want a border wall, to continue with the status quo of a partial government shutdown.