WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump announced Friday that he will approve a short-term funding plan to reopen the government after a historic 35-day shutdown. The shutdown began Dec. 22, 2018.
The current plan does not include funding for Trump's proposed border wall, but the president once again outlined why he feels border security is a top priority.
"We really have no choice but to build a powerful wall or steel barrier," Trump said, citing human trafficking, drug smuggling and illegal immigration as his main concerns.
Trump said if a deal on border wall funding is not reached by Feb. 15, the government will shut down again or he will "use the powers afforded to me...to address this emergency."
The current deal includes back pay for the federal workers impacted by the shutdown.
The president thanked federal workers for their courage and implored Democrats and Republicans to work together on the issue of border security.
"I hope both Democrats and Republicans will operate in good faith," Trump said. "This is an opportunity for all parties to work together for our whole, wonderful, beautiful nation."
Sen. Chuck Schumer responded to the new deal after Trump made the announcement.
"As Democrats have said all along, the solution to this impasse was to separate funding the government from our disagreements over border security," Schumer said. "This agreement endorses that position."
Some 800,000 federal workers have had to work without pay or have been kept from doing their jobs as Trump and congressional Democrats were locked in a stalemate over the billions of dollars that Trump has demanded to build a U.S.-Mexico border wall.
Trump said he asked Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to immediately take the bill to the Senate floor. The Senate easily passed the measure before 5 p.m. Friday.
U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., released the following statement:
“I’m glad the leadership of the House and the president have come to an agreement and hope that we can now sit down and negotiate in earnest to secure our border and get the government back in operating order.”
The House approved the bill to end the shutdown, and Trump signed the bill late Friday night.
The new deal comes after flights were delayed across the East Coast on Friday due to a shortage of air traffic controllers.
The nation's airports have been hit particularly hard by the shutdown, which has forced some Transportation Security Administration and Federal Aviation Administration workers to report to work without being paid.
On Friday, Channel 2's Nicole Carr was in Clayton County, where TSA workers were offered free gas at a gas station near the airport.
It was a small comfort as workers struggled to make ends meet after their second missed paychecks.
“It’s starting to mess with people’s emotions. It needs to end," one agent told Carr.
By Friday afternoon, the FAA said most of the delays had been resolved.
A local federal worker told Channel 2's Rikki Klaus he's worried he'll be off the job again in three weeks. Kelvin Williams is the U.S. Penitentiary Atlanta's union president. For 21 years, he's worked as a corrections officer.
“It’s a short-term solution. Three weeks. We don’t know what’s going to happen after those three weeks are over," Williams said.
Williams said morale at the federal prison is really low. His co-workers don't know when their back pay is coming. Williams’ bills hang in the balance.
“We can’t pay the bills, but they’re still coming in,” Williams said.
Williams said he wants lawmakers to adopt a long-term solution so this doesn’t happen again.
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