Partial shutdown ends, at least for 3 weeks - What's Your Point?

- Longest government shutdown ends for at least 3 weeks. This week's panel: Jessica Colon - Republican strategist, Nyanza Davis Moore - Democratic Political Commentator Attorney, Bob Price – Associate Editor of Breitbart Texas,  Antonio Diaz- writer, educator and radio host,  Tomaro Bell – Super Neighborhood leader,  Kathleen McKinley – conservative blogger talk about the shutdown and border security.

WASHINGTON (AP) - Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney says President Donald Trump is prepared for another government shutdown if Congress won't work with him to secure the U.S.-Mexico border.

Mulvaney says Trump doesn't want to see federal agencies closed again and doesn't want to declare a national emergency either. But he says Trump is prepared to do either.

He says Trump agreed to reopen the government for three weeks to give Democrats a chance to negotiate. Mulvaney says some Democrats agree with Trump's plan to better secure the border, but said they couldn't work with the White House as long as there was a partial government shutdown.

Mulvaney spoke Sunday on CBS' "Face the Nation" and "Fox News Sunday."

 

WASHINGTON (AP) - In the year's first test of divided government, give round one to Nancy Pelosi. And it wasn't really competitive.

When the record 35-day partial federal shutdown began before Christmas, Pelosi had just won a vote-by-vote struggle for enough Democratic support to become House speaker. To secure that job, the 78-year-old House veteran had to overcome critics' arguments that she had been party leader for too long and wasn't Democrats' best bet to appeal to diverse, social media savvy audiences.

By the time President Donald Trump capitulated Friday, ending the shutdown, Pelosi had burnished her image as the shrewd, steely and unquestioned leader of her party. That makes her a formidable opponent in what looms as a perilous two years for the White House before the 2020 election.

She had kept Democrats united as public pressure built to end the standoff. And she stood up to Trump repeatedly, challenging his intelligence ("Let's give him to time to think it - oh, think, did I say think?") and even exercising her power as speaker to block him from using the House chamber to deliver a State of the Union address planned for this Tuesday.

Trump "found out that Pelosi is no pushover," said former Rep. Tom Davis, R-Va., who once headed the House GOP campaign organization.

Backers celebrated her triumph by repeatedly reposting a month-old video of an unruffled Pelosi emerging from a televised Oval Office confrontation with Trump, coolly easing sunglasses onto her face and striding toward reporters.

"I've heard people say to me, 'It looks like we really did elect the right person as speaker,'" Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo., said days before Trump's surrender.

Pelosi demurred when asked whether the shutdown had been a test between herself and Trump.

"I don't see this as any power play," she told reporters Friday.

But actually, it unmistakably was a contest between Washington's two power centers, each gauging the other's tenacity and smarts.

In a city where perception begets influence, Pelosi clearly emerged with the upper hand. That could set the tone for skirmishes ahead, including investigations that the Democratic-led House, armed with subpoena power, plans into Trump's businesses and his 2016 presidential campaign's connections to Russia.

"@SpeakerPelosi should give the State of the Union since she's obviously the one running the country," tweeted Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif.

Immediately ahead is the still unresolved question of how much money, if any, Congress gives him to build the wall he along the U.S.-Mexico border. The short-term bill that Trump signed Friday reopening government will lapse Feb. 15. With three weeks to find a border security compromise, Republicans are using that agreement as a test of Pelosi's credibility.

"Trust is earned, & Washington can use more of it. POTUS trusted Sen Schumer & Spkr Pelosi & the promise that we can negotiate border security funding in the next 3 weeks," tweeted Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla. He referred to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and used the acronym for president of the United States.

House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy of California insisted that Trump had not surrendered.

"No. He knows the American people are hurting. He put the American people first, so they can get paid. Three weeks to negotiate," he said in a brief interview.

Pelosi's upward trajectory during the shutdown contrasted with Trump's, which plunged in the opposite direction.

The president abruptly rejected a deal on Dec. 19 that would have temporarily averted a shutdown and given bargainers time to seek a border security deal. GOP and Democratic congressional leaders believed he had accepted that agreement and were stunned when he reneged under criticism from conservative pundits.

On Friday, Trump accepted the same offer. But in the interim, he endured numerous self-inflicted wounds.

Polls showed voters blamed largely him for the shutdown. His favorability ratings plummeted and he faced a near rebellion from GOP senators, who bluntly told Vice President Mike Pence a day before Trump yielded that it was time to end the standoff.

Trump was further hurt by endless stories about the tribulations of the 800,000 federal workers going without pay and countless others missing needed government services, plus comments by high-ranking administration officials that made those officials seem unfeeling about the suffering.

Things spiraled dangerously Friday amid a snowballing shortage of air traffic controllers that snarled airports in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, raising questions about safety.

All that for an agreement that contains no guarantee Pelosi and her fellow Democrats will provide a dime for Trump's wall, which Pelosi has called "immoral" and has said Congress will not finance.

Trump remains hopeful, tweeting Saturday that "only fools, or people with a political agenda" do not want a wall or steel barrier. "It will happen."

History shows that over the past quarter-century, voters generally don't punish candidates for shutdowns. This one occurred nearly two full years before the 2020 elections, leaving time for other events and issues to dominate when Trump runs for re-election and House and Senate control are at stake.

Even so, after the performances by Pelosi and Trump, it was Republicans who seemed more concerned about the potential reverberations.

Asked if the shutdown was worth it, Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., said, "I don't think they're ever a good idea. The answer to your question probably has to be, 'We'll see what happens.'"

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AP Congressional Correspondent Lisa Mascaro and Associated Press writer Andrew Taylor contributed to this report.

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EDITOR'S NOTE - Associated Press writer Alan Fram has covered Washington policy and politics, including Congress, since 1987.

An AP News Analysis

 

WASHINGTON (AP) - Submitting to mounting pressure amid growing disruption, President Donald Trump signed a bill Friday to reopen the government for three weeks, backing down from his demand that Congress give him money for his border wall before federal agencies get back to work.

Standing alone in the Rose Garden, Trump said he would sign legislation funding shuttered agencies until Feb. 15 and try again to persuade lawmakers to finance his long-sought wall. The deal he reached with congressional leaders contains no new money for the wall but ends the longest shutdown in U.S. history.

First the Senate, then the House swiftly and unanimously approved the deal. Late Friday, Trump signed it into law. The administration asked federal department heads to reopen offices in a "prompt and orderly manner" and said furloughed employees can return to work.

Trump's retreat came in the 35th day of the partial shutdown as intensifying delays at the nation's airports and another missed payday for hundreds of thousands of federal workers brought new urgency to efforts to resolve the standoff.

"This was in no way a concession," Trump said in a tweet late Friday, fending off critics who wanted him to keep fighting. "It was taking care of millions of people who were getting badly hurt by the Shutdown with the understanding that in 21 days, if no deal is done, it's off to the races!"

The shutdown ended as Democratic leaders had insisted it must - reopen the government first, then talk border security.

"The president thought he could crack Democrats, and he didn't, and I hope it's a lesson for him," said the Senate Democratic leader, Chuck Schumer. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said of her members: "Our unity is our power. And that is what maybe the president underestimated."

Trump still made the case for a border wall and maintained he might again shut down the government over it. Yet, as negotiations restart, Trump enters them from a weakened position. A strong majority of Americans blamed him for the standoff and rejected his arguments for a border wall, recent polls show.

"If we don't get a fair deal from Congress, the government will either shut down on Feb. 15, again, or I will use the powers afforded to me under the laws and Constitution of the United States to address this emergency," Trump said.

The president has said he could declare a national emergency to fund the border wall unilaterally if Congress doesn't provide the money. Such a move would almost certainly face legal hurdles.

As part of the deal with congressional leaders, a bipartisan committee of House and Senate lawmakers was being formed to consider border spending as part of the legislative process in the weeks ahead.

"They are willing to put partisanship aside, I think, and put the security of the American people first," Trump said. He asserted that a "barrier or walls will be an important part of the solution."

The deal includes back pay for some 800,000 federal workers who have gone without paychecks. The Trump administration promises to pay them as soon as possible.

Also expected is a new date for the president to deliver his State of the Union address, postponed during the shutdown. But it will not be Jan. 29 as once planned, according to a person familiar with the planning but unauthorized to discuss it.

As border talks resume, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he hopes there will be "good-faith negotiations over the next three weeks to try to resolve our differences."

Schumer said that while Democrats oppose the wall money, they agree on other ways to secure the border "and that bodes well for coming to an eventual agreement."

In striking the accord, Trump risks backlash from conservatives who pushed him to keep fighting for the wall. Some lashed out Friday for his having yielded, for now, on his signature campaign promise.

Conservative commentator Ann Coulter suggested on Twitter that she views Trump as "the biggest wimp" to serve as president.

Money for the wall is not at all guaranteed, as Democrats have held united against building a structure as Trump once envisioned, preferring other types of border technology. Asked about Trump's wall, Pelosi, who has said repeatedly she won't approve money for it, said: "Have I not been clear? No, I have been very clear."

Within the White House, there was broad recognition among Trump's aides that the shutdown pressure was growing, and they couldn't keep the standoff going indefinitely. The president's approval numbers had suffered during the impasse. Overnight and Friday, several Republicans were calling on him openly, and in private, to reopen the government.

The breakthrough came as LaGuardia Airport in New York and Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey both experienced at least 90-minute delays in takeoffs Friday because of the shutdown. And the world's busiest airport - Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport - was experiencing long security wait times, a warning sign the week before it expects 150,000 out-of-town visitors for the Super Bowl.

The standoff became so severe that, as the Senate opened with prayer, Chaplain Barry Black called on high powers in the "hour of national turmoil" to help senators do "what is right."

Senators were talking with increased urgency after Thursday's defeat of competing proposals from Trump and the Democrats. Bipartisan talks provided a glimmer of hope Friday that some agreement could be reached. But several senators said they didn't know what to expect as they arrived to watch the president's televised address from their lunchroom off the Senate floor.

The Senate first rejected a Republican plan Thursday reopening the government through September and giving Trump the $5.7 billion he's demanded for building segments of that wall, a project that he'd long promised Mexico would finance. The 50-47 vote for the measure fell 10 shy of the 60 votes needed to succeed.

Minutes later, senators voted 52-44 for a Democratic alternative that sought to open padlocked agencies through Feb. 8 with no wall money. That was eight votes short. But it earned more support than Trump's plan, even though Republicans control the chamber 53-47. It was aimed at giving bargainers time to seek an accord while getting paychecks to government workers who are either working without pay or being forced to stay home.

Contributing to the pressure on lawmakers to find a solution was the harsh reality confronting many of the federal workers, who on Friday faced a second two-week payday with no paychecks.

Throughout, the two sides issued mutually exclusive demands that have blocked negotiations from even starting: Trump had refused to reopen government until Congress gave him the wall money, and congressional Democrats had rejected bargaining until he reopened government.

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Associated Press writers Catherine Lucey, Alan Fram, Andrew Taylor, Colleen Long, Matthew Daly, Laurie Kellman and Juliet Linderman contributed to this report.

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