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How ‘pressure mounting’ on Trump led him to make temporary deal

On Friday, President Trump announced a deal to reopen the government for three weeks. The funding plan does not include immediate money for a border wall. It will allow Democrats and Republicans to negotiate a longer-term solution without the shadow of the shutdown hanging over them -- in theory, at least. Lisa Desjardins and Yamiche Alcindor join Judy Woodruff with the latest.

Read the Full Transcript

  • Judy Woodruff:

    The government of the United States is about to reopen, in full, after 35 days. President Trump agreed today to end the partial shutdown, for now, on Democratic terms, and Congress quickly moved to make it happen.

  • Donald Trump:

    I am proud to announce today that we have reached a deal to end the shutdown and reopen the federal government.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Presidential confirmation came in the White House Rose Garden, with his own Cabinet members and staffers looking on.

  • Donald Trump:

    This is an opportunity for all parties to work together for the benefit of our whole, beautiful, wonderful nation. If we make a fair deal, the American people will be proud of their government for proving that we can put country before party.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Under the compromise, government operations are funded through February 15, and federal workers get back pay. Congress will negotiate on border security, but there is no funding so far for the border wall that Mr. Trump has demanded.

    He insisted today he is not giving up on that demand.

  • Donald Trump:

    We're going to work with the Democrats. We're going to see. And if we can't do that, then we will do — obviously, we're going to do the emergency, because that's what it is. It's a national emergency at the Capitol.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    At the Capitol, Democratic leaders welcomed the development.

  • Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.:

    As the Democrats have said all along, the solution to this impasse was separate funding for the government, and then go over our disagreements with border security. And, ultimately, this agreement endorses our position.

  • Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.:

    I do have to say I'm optimistic. I see every challenge or every crisis as an opportunity. And, hopefully, that'll make everybody come together in a way that is unifying for our country.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    All of this came on a day when commercial flight disruptions added to pressure to end the shutdown. There were delays up to 90 minutes at New York's La Guardia Airport, at Newark, New Jersey, and in Philadelphia.

    Officials blamed a spike in air traffic controllers not showing up for work in Washington and in Jacksonville, Florida, both major hubs for flight control.

    The disruption hit as controllers and thousands of other federal employees missed a second paycheck today. And The Washington Post reported thousands of employees at the Internal Revenue Service have not been showing up, despite being ordered back to work.

    Now some 800,000 federal employees can look forward to returning to work, with pay, for at least the next three weeks.

    And we turn now to our own Yamiche Alcindor and Lisa Desjardins for more on today's sudden end to the shutdown.

    So, Yamiche, to you first.

    The president has said for 35 days he wouldn't give in unless there were wall funding. What made him change his mind?

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Well, it's clear that the president completely gave in, and gave in on Democratic terms.

    For 35 days, he says, I'm not opening up the government without wall funding. And then today he did just that.

    White House officials tell me that the president was moved because rank-and-file Democrats assured him that they were going to pay — or vote for wall funding for him and that they were essentially going to give him the money down the line.

    That said, they won't name exactly who those Democrats are. So it's hard to check whether or not that's actually clear. What we do know is that there was pressure mounting on President Trump. First, there are polls that were showing the majority of Americans were blaming Donald Trump and president — and Republicans for the shutdown.

    There was also this idea that these issues at the airport were really coming to a fever pitch, and unions were saying, safety is at risk here. And then lastly, of course, the big one, federal workers missed another paycheck today, and people were wondering, when is this finally going to end?

    Now, the White House tells me that federal workers are going to be paid within four to five days. So the president here was backed into a corner and caved.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    So, Lisa, what's the Democrats' view of this? How do they believe this came around? And what is the game plan for the next three weeks?

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Democrats say they were incredibly unified, even though they had some disagreements over strategy within their conference and caucuses.

    Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer said they managed to keep all the Democrats together at this toe-the-line strategy that they had. In addition, here's what's going to happen next. We have talked about this border security task force. It's a conference committee that we have already known seven senators have been named to that group.

    They have until February 15 to try and work out a deal. Interesting, those seven senators, none of them represent a southern border state. We will see if there are any who represent a southern border state when the House names its members, Republicans and Democrats, to try and work out a deal.

    One other thing, House Speaker Pelosi's office sent out a note saying what they think happened here. And they wrote specifically the speaker kept the president off-balance by insisting that the State of the Union be held after the shutdown was over.

    An update on that. House Speaker Pelosi said today that still there is no date for the shutdown — I'm sorry — for the State of the Union. And I'm told by people here that it is almost logistically impossible for it to happen by next Tuesday.

    Chances are, it will be delayed, even if government reopens before then, as it looks like it will. And one last note. I chased after Speaker Pelosi and Leader Schumer to ask them about federal contractors, who are not slated to get back pay yet, Judy. They both said it's on their minds, and they are working to try and do something for them.

    So we will keep on top of that.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Now, Yamiche, back to you. You said the president is counting on getting Democratic support for border wall money. But what happens if he doesn't get that? What are you hearing at the White House? And do they think this affects their relationship with the other party going forward?

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Well, for 35 days, President Trump has been dangling this idea that he would declare a national emergency.

    Now we know, for 21 more days, he's going to be dangling that same national emergency. He says that he's going to try to work with Democrats, but that if he cannot reach a deal where he will get funding for the wall, that he will declare a national emergency.

    It's important to note that the president taking that step would not just be a big deal because of the way that he would get the money. It's also because it would be a big deal because of the way that it would set a tone for his — for the way that he's going to deal with a Democratically controlled House.

    This is a president who has had all sorts of issues dealing with Democrats. And now he might be saying, you know what? I'm going to declare an emergency for this. There's some people that are wondering, does that mean that he's going to declare a national emergency for some other issue, like infrastructure or other things?

    It's important to note that the president is also getting some pushback from the — from the deal that he struck today. The conservative writer and author Ann Coulter tweeted out today saying that the president was a wimp.

    So the president here is really trying to think, how am I going to strategize, how am I going to deal with Democrats going forward?

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Fast-moving events.

    Yamiche Alcindor, Lisa Desjardins, thank you both.

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