President Donald Trump. Photo from Shutterstock.com.
President Donald Trump on Friday announced a deal to end the government shutdown for three weeks while negotiations continue on funds for a border wall.
Speaking from the Rose Garden, Trump said he would sign a bill to open the government until Feb. 15 and he would make sure employees receive back pay very quickly.
During that time, Trump said, he expects Democrats and Republicans to negotiate in good faith.
Trump said he has “a very powerful alternative” but he didn’t want to use it at this time, an apparent reference to using emergency powers to tap funds for a border wall.
Trump said a bipartisan conference committee of House and Senate lawmakers and leaders will begin reviewing requests of experts from the Department of Homeland Security. Based on that guidance, lawmakers will put together a package that addresses border security and includes desperately needed humanitarian assistance, the president said.
Trump said a brick wall is not needed “from sea to shining sea” because some natural structures at the border act as physical barriers. He called for walls that would be made of steel and have see-though visibility, and said that state-of-the art technology such as drones will also be used.
“The walls we are building are not medieval walls, they are smart walls,” Trump said.
Trump said he believes that crime will go down “a massive percentage” with strong security at the southern border.
If there is no agreement on border security by Feb. 15, Trump said the government will shut down or he will use the powers afforded to him.
The government has been shut down for 35 days, the longest shutdown in the country’s history. About 800,000 federal workers have been furloughed or required to work without pay.
Federal courts have been operating on a scaled-back basis with money from court fees and other funding sources, but the money was expected to run out on Jan. 31.