4 things to watch as government reopens and border security talks begin

The wall — whether it’s funded or not — looms large

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., are seen after a news conference in the Capitol about a continuing resolution to reopen the government on Friday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., are seen after a news conference in the Capitol about a continuing resolution to reopen the government on Friday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Posted January 25, 2019 at 6:19pm

After 35 days, Donald Trump announced Friday in the White House Rose Garden that he would agree to end a partial government shutdown. The Senate and House vowed Friday to pass continuing resolutions to restore funding to the closed agencies.

Trump’s demand for a $5.7 billion border wall has been put on hold, while the House and Senate to go to conference on a Homeland Security funding bill

But questions remain:

When will the employees that have been furloughed or working without pay get their checks, does Trump get to deliver his State of the Union address Tuesday, could the government shut down again — and what about the wall?

State of the Union

At a Friday news conference with Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said the State of the Union was still “not planned.”

Trump and Pelosi sent dueling letters this week arguing over whether he would deliver address Jan. 29 from the House chamber as initially scheduled.

Watch: ‘No one should ever underestimate the speaker’: Democrats claim victory after shutdown agreement

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Pelosi still has the power to nix the event. She must bring up a concurrent resolution needed to form a joint session of Congress to host his speech.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said he would like to see the State of the Union go forward on its scheduled Tuesday date.  But said he doesn’t know whether there’d be enough time from a security perspective.

She mentioned at the press conference that she would discuss with him a mutually agreeable date for the address.

What about the wall?

The agreement, calls for a continuing resolution to all unfunded departments lasting through Feb. 15, and a vehicle to go to conference on the Homeland Security spending bill.

Trump reiterated Friday that the walls he desires are  “not medieval walls” but “smart walls designed to meet the needs of frontline border agents and are operationally effective.”

In the resolution set for passage Friday, a Democratic congressional source said there is no wall money in the agreement. 

The continuing resolution that would provide funding to all the shuttered agencies and include a provision to provide backpay for furloughed employees.

Trump agreeing to a short-term continuing resolution without wall funding is a major reversal. A few weeks ago Trump was in the Rose Garden telling reporters he would not agree to open the government for a short period to allow broader immigration talks to continue.

Workers get paid

In her Friday press conference, Pelosi spent a majority of her time talking about the furloughed federal workers and promised, as the president did, to get their pay back quickly.

“I’m sad it has taken this long,” she said. “I’m glad we’ve come to conclusion today as to how we’ll go forward in the next three weeks.”

The Senate and House have already passed bills ensuring that workers will get back pay.

After Democrats and Republicans failed to reach an agreement on the wall in December, almost 800,000 federal workers were either furloughed or are worked without pay.

An Office of Management and Budget official said Friday that federal agencies have been directed prepare for an orderly opening once Trump has signed the legislation to reopen the government.  

Will the government shut down again? 

The day before Trump announced a deal had been reached, Trump told reporters a three-week stopgap funding measure — a bipartisan idea that appeared to pick up steam in the Senate late Thursday afternoon — must include a “prorated down payment” for his U.S.-Mexico border barrier.

Friday’s deal does not include the money for any kind of downpayment, but Trump Friday refused to back down from his demand for eventual wall funding.

Watch: Trump warns of another shutdown if Congress doesn’t reach a new deal by Feb. 15

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Trump hinted that he may be willing to shut down the government again if the new deal does not include it.  

“We really have no choice but to build a powerful wall or steel barrier,” Trump said. “If we don’t get a fair deal from Congress, the government will either shut down again on Feb. 15 again or I will use the powers afforded to me under the laws and the Constitution of the United States to address this emergency.”