No wall but Trump says: 'I will sign a bill to open our government' for 3 weeks
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President Donald J. Trump said he is ready to sign legislation to reopen the government for three weeks.
The Senate passed the measure by voice vote Friday afternoon, followed by the House. The White House must still sign the bills into law.
There is no money in the temporary bill to pay for a border wall.
He said federal employees would get back pay as soon as possible.
But if the president was conceding territory, he sure did not sound that way. His speech was a return to the rhetoric about the dangers from the border.
Trump's announcement said that negotiations will continue and expects both sides to work in "good faith." But he continued to talk about his support for a border wall "or what ever you want to call it."
"It's just common sense, walls work," he said. Trump said he never proposed a coast-to-coast wall, but his proposed structures would those proposed by the Border Patrol.
He said if he does not get a "fair deal" from Congress he will either shutdown the government again or use his emergency powers to build a wall.
But some of his supporters were not buying that line.
On his talk show, Sean Hannity said he thinks the president will declare a national emergency at the end of the three weeks.
The president's action comes on the same day when major northeastern airports faced significant flight delays because of fewer air traffic controllers.
Trump said the Congress would have a committee work on a larger immigration reform package. But the mechanics of that are unclear, although the president said it should include law enforcement.
However Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, said the legislation for the Homelands Security appropriations would go to a conference committee. That's a formal power of Congress and it would be limited to members of Congress appointed by the Senate and the House.
At 35 days -- two paychecks for most federal workers -- this was the longest government shutdown in history.
Sen. Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, said a resolution funding the government could be enacted Friday afternoon. "Our dedicated public servants should never have to go through this again," he said. He said Congress will work on a border security after the government is funding, focusing on the areas where Democrats and Republicans can find agreement.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, said a difference over policy is never a reason to shutdown government.
She said was optimistic that a bigger deal could be reached by the Senate-House Conference Committee.
"I am relieved that we have reached an agreement to open the government, fund our federal programs, and get our federal employees back to work with the paychecks they deserve," said Rep. Sharice Davids, D-Kansas, Ho Chunk Nation. "I look forward to working together with lawmakers from both parties to reach a long-term solution.
“After we voted and passed eleven bills to fund the government, this administration finally came to their senses. For the first time in more than a month, furloughed employees will get some relief – but that doesn’t undo the damage President Trump has inflicted on families in New Mexico. This is the same funding bill that could have been signed weeks ago, which shows just how unnecessary this shutdown was in the first place. I will be working hard for a long-term solution that prioritizes the needs of families in my district,” said Rep. Deb Haaland, D-New Mexico, Laguna Pueblo.
Rep. Tom Cole, R-Oklahoma, Chickasaw Nation, said: “Through his announcement today, the president demonstrated yet again that he is willing to negotiate in good faith, and Democrats are now out of excuses for refusing to do so as well. In the weeks ahead, it is critical that Democrats stay true to their promise of working with Republicans and the president on solutions for border security. I believe we can find a compromise that both sides agree on and which reflects the views of the American people.”
Rep. Markwayne Mullin, R-Oklahoma, Cherokee Nation said: “The resilience and support of the federal workers over the past month has been incredible ... I want to thank them and their families for their commitment to our country. Just as President Trump said, Congress now has a chance to prove that we can put country before party. I look forward to working with my colleagues across the aisle in the coming weeks to put lawful American citizens before politics.”
Navajo Nation applauds announcement
“Through the leadership of the Nez-Lizer Administration and the 24th Navajo Nation Council, we have been reaching out to our Congressional leaders and others to demand an end to the shutdown due to the increasing impacts on our people, so we are pleased with today’s announcement,” said Navajo President Jonathan Nez. “Even with today’s announcement, we will continue calling on President Trump and Congress to fully fund the government and end the cycle of continuing resolutions that get us from one deadline to the next.”
“We will proceed carefully and work diligently to prevent any detrimental effects to our programs and our Navajo citizens,” added President Nez.
Earlier Friday, Sen. Tom Udall, D-New Mexico, held a telephone press conference where he and tribal leaders called for legislation that would protect Indian Country from future shutdowns.
The Indian Programs Advance Appropriations Act would authorize advance appropriations for Indian Health Service programs, Bureau of Indian Affairs programs, and contract support costs for tribes that opt to take-over operation of IHS and BIA.
“Because of the unique government-to-government relationship between Tribes and the United States, Native communities in New Mexico and across the country are among those hit the hardest when the appropriations process is hijacked for political leverage, as is the case in this shutdown,” Udall said. “The Indian Programs Advance Appropriations Act will offer certainty to Tribes and federal law enforcement, health care, and child welfare services employees working in Indian Country. I am proud to lead this effort with my colleagues to make sure the budget process meets our federal trust and treaty obligations going forward.”
“It is not a choice, our country must uphold its treaty and trust responsibilities to all Native Americans,” said Sen. Jon Tester. “This bill will ensure tribes have long-term budget certainty and no longer suffer negative consequences as a result of political infighting in Washington, DC.”
“This shutdown is a violation of the federal government’s treaty and trust obligations to provide health care, education, and other services to tribal nations,”said Jefferson Keel, President of the National Congress of American Indians. “We thank Vice-Chairman Udall for introducing the Indian Programs Advanced Appropriations Act, which would help prevent future budget fights from undermining the health and safety of tribal communities.”
“The National Indian Health Board is pleased to support the Indian Programs Advanced Appropriations Act,” said Victoria Kitcheyan, Acting Chairperson of the National Indian Health Board. “The current government shutdown is destabilizing Native health delivery and health care provider access; as well as destabilizing Tribal Governments, families, children and individuals. Funding for the Indian health system is a result of Treaties and other legal obligations made by the federal government with Indian Country and should not be held hostage each year by unrelated political battles. Advance Appropriations for IHS will help the federal government meet its trust obligation to Tribal governments, and protect the lives of American Indians and Alaska Natives. We thank Senator Udall for introducing this important legislation.”
“The passing of this bill will be a critical measure in fulfilling the Federal government's trust obligation to American Indian and Alaska Native people,” said Maureen Rosette, President of the National Council on Urban Indian Health. “We are grateful to Senator Udall and the IPAA sponsors for championing this longstanding issue in an attempt to create true equality for AI/ANs that receive health care services through all three prongs – IHS, Tribal, and Urban – of the Indian Health system.”
“The effects of the current lapse in appropriations, as well as prior lapses and delays in the enactment of the budget, have exacerbated challenges in the administration of programs that serve Tribal Nations and their citizens and placed the health and safety of our people and communities at risk,” said Ron Allen, Chairman of the Self-Governance Education and Communication Tribal Consortium. “The effects of this shutdown illustrate why we need Congress to pass the Indian Programs Advance Appropriations Act and ensure Indian country is not harmed in future political battles that hold critical services and resources as ransom.”
Indian Country Today interactive spreadsheets: