Longest government shutdown in history has ended … for now

ERICA WERNER, JOHN WAGNER and MIKE DEBONIS | 2/4/2019, 11:12 a.m.
President Donald Trump on Friday agreed to temporarily reopen the federal government without getting any new money for his U.S.-Mexico ...
President Donald J. Trump delivers remarks on the government shutdown in the Rose Garden, Jan. 25. Tia Dufour

“Have I not been clear on the wall? No, I have been very clear on the wall,” Pelosi said during a joint news conference with Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., after the deal was announced.

Pelosi and Schumer took a measured tone in their comments, avoiding gloating and deflecting opportunities to declare victory over the president, even as they welcomed a deal laid out on their own terms.

“I don’t see this as any power play,” Pelosi said.

But the Democratic leaders said they hoped Trump had learned some lessons from the outcome of the first major struggle under Washington’s new power structure, with Democrats now in control of the House and Republicans still running the Senate and the White House.

“No one should ever underestimate the speaker, as Donald Trump has learned,” Schumer said.

“Hopefully it means a lesson learned for the White House and for many of our Republican colleagues. Shutting down the government over a policy difference is self-defeating, it accomplishes nothing but pain and suffering for the country, and incurs an enormous political cost to the party shutting it down.”

On that point, Republicans agreed. The mood among Senate Republicans was sour in the wake of Trump’s announced deal, as they found themselves back where they were right before Christmas, when they voted for a short-term spending bill with no wall funding only to see Trump turn against it the next morning amid a ferocious conservative backlash. In the subsequent weeks, Republicans largely supported the president through the shutdown, incurring the wrath of some constituents and achieving nothing in the end.

“This never should have happened,” Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said on the Senate floor. “We cannot mess with people’s lives this way.”

“I hate government shutdowns,” Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., said brusquely to reporters as she hurried into a GOP meeting room.

Trump’s decision to reopen the government came together in only 36 hours or so, White House aides said, and a key inflection point was a revolt Thursday among some Senate Republicans – in a closed-door luncheon where they confronted Vice President Pence, and a subsequent vote where a half-dozen Republicans defied Trump to support an ultimately failed Democratic spending bill.

The fissures among exasperated members of his party – coupled with security concerns with the freeze on resources raised by the FBI and other agencies – led Trump to conclude he had run out of time and had to reopen the government.

Pence and Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, presented him with several options for doing so and Trump opted for the three-week continuing resolution, reserving the ability to declare a national emergency if Congress does not eventually appropriate money for the border wall.

The political costs to Trump and his party could be severe, as they now command a weakened hand in a series of critical issues looming this year, including the need to raise the federal borrowing limit to stave off a crushing default.

Moreover, public disapproval of Trump has swelled five points to 58 percent over three months as a majority of Americans continue to hold him and congressional Republicans most responsible for the partial federal government shutdown, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.