US: President Trump signs bill ending longest government shutdown
US President Donald Trump has signed legislation to temporarily end the longest government shutdown, dropping his previous insistence on immediate funding for wall construction along the Mexican border.
“I am very proud to announce today that we have reached a deal to end the shutdown and reopen the federal government,” Trump said on Friday in an address in the White House Rose Garden.
“In a short while, I will sign a bill to open our government for three weeks, until February 15,” he added.
The spending bill Trump and Democrats agreed to does not contain the $5.7 billion he needs for a wall along the US-Mexico border.
The House unanimously approved the bill hours after the Senate backed the measure by voice vote, sending it to Trump to sign it into law.
Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said the deal reflected the insistence of Democrats that funding the government is different from disagreements over border security.
“This agreement endorses that position,” Schumer said. “It reopens the government without any preconditions and gives Democrats and Republicans an opportunity to discuss border security without holding hundreds of thousands of American workers hostage.”
Meanwhile, the president threatened to shut down the government again or resort to emergency powers to address the border issue next month if Congress fails to provide border wall funding.
“If we don’t get a fair deal from Congress, the government either shuts down on February 15th again, or I will use the powers afforded to me under the laws and Constitution of the United States to address this emergency.”
Trump earlier said that he would not “cave” in to pressure from Democrats to reopen the government, after leaders in the Senate announced they had struck an agreement to hold two votes on January 24 in order to end the shutdown stalemate.
The president says the wall is essential to maintain security along the country’s southern border, but House Democrats believe that there are cheaper and more effective ways than the wall to strengthen border security.
They have offered to give Trump $1.3 billion in new border security funds this year to help pay for a range of high-tech and other tools to enhance security at the southern border.
Constructing a wall along the US-Mexico border could cost way above $25 billion, according to Trump’s critics in the Democratic Party.
Trump said Friday that “the walls we are building are not medieval walls. They are smart walls designed to meet the needs of front-line border agents and are operationally effective.”
“We do not need 2,000 miles of concrete wall from sea to shining sea, we never did, we never proposed that, we never wanted that, because we have barriers at the border where our natural structures are as good as anything we can build.”