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Trump Agrees To Short-Term Spending Bill That Does Not Include Border Wall Funding

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

The longest government shutdown in American history is coming to an end.

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

CORNISH: President Trump caved on his demand for a $5.7 billion border wall with Mexico in order to reopen the government. Congress has passed the bill. It's an early political win for Democrats and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

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NANCY PELOSI: Our unity is our power, and that is what maybe the president underestimated.

CORNISH: NPR congressional correspondent Susan Davis has covered all 35 days of the shutdown saga. She joins us now. And, Sue, I think the first question at least for the 800,000 Americans who were out of work might be asking is when they're going to see a paycheck.

SUSAN DAVIS, BYLINE: They will see a paycheck soon. The deal that they reached today includes backpay for all of those 800,000 workers. They will not get their paycheck today, but they will get it within days, not weeks.

CORNISH: In the meantime, this deal - how did it come together?

DAVIS: It's pretty straightforward. It's essentially just a punt. It's a three-week stopgap funding bill to get the government open until February 15. What the - what they did do is establish a committee that is going to have to negotiate within those three weeks the terms of a spending bill for Homeland Security. This is going to give Democrats and Republicans a chance to keep fighting over border security.

They reached this kind of abrupt deal today I think in part because the Senate proved this week that they couldn't pass the wall. They didn't have the votes in the House. The president's back was increasingly up against the wall here. There were news reports today about airports across the country starting to face increasing delays over staffing demands. And I think just the pressures of the increasing hardships that were being put on Americans and increasingly on the economy just made this not sustainable for the White House any longer.

CORNISH: But is there a chance that we're going to be in another shutdown fight in three weeks? I mean, people have been calling this a stopgap.

DAVIS: You know, the president at the White House today did say he was going to keep fighting for the wall. He has moved the goalposts a lot on what it means exactly to build a wall. He went from wanting a full wall to steel slats to some kind of physical structure to being open to technology. It's still not entirely clear what the president wants to get here to claim that he had a win.

Democrats point to the fact that they're actually very willing to work with the president on a number of border security measures. The Senate minority leader, Chuck Schumer, today outlined all kinds of things Democrats would be willing to spend money on, things like enhanced drug inspections, more security at legal points of entry, money to help with the humanitarian crisis at the border. But they continue to say they will not support anything that is seen as building the wall.

You know, I always say the thing to remember in this entire shutdown fight is this from the beginning was a political fight. The wall was always the central campaign promise of the president. And I think in that regard, you have to look at today as a serious political blow to the president who on day 35 of the shutdown ends it with nothing he didn't have at the beginning of the shutdown fight.

CORNISH: How's that playing with his base?

DAVIS: Some of the loudest anti-immigrant voices in the Republican circles, people like Ann Coulter, came out very quickly attacking him. Up here on Capitol Hill, I think Republicans still remain very loyal to the president. They continue to take his cues from him on this. Some loyalists like North Carolina Republican Congressman Mark Meadows says he still wants the president to consider declaring a national emergency to build the wall if Congress won't do it.

There aren't really a lot of upsides for the president here. You know, in the past month, his personal approval has taken a hit. The Republican Party's approval has taken a hit. There were signs the economy was starting to go on a downturn. And politically, it also had the effect of really elevating the profile of Nancy Pelosi, who just regained the speaker's gavel. I think in some ways, it strengthened her hand in this and future negotiations, and she did kind of prove that she can keep Democrats together when it counts going up against the Trump administration.

CORNISH: That's NPR congressional correspondent Susan Davis. Sue, thank you.

DAVIS: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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