Editorial: Government is open. For now.
It took 35 days.
It took more than a month to get the federal government open for business after President Trump pulled back on his previous support for a bipartisan spending plan that would have funded operations into February.
It went through two pay cycles for 800,000 government employees and the first time a branch of the military has ever gone without a paycheck. It took ruined national parks. It took the FBI saying it was out of tires and copy paper and couldn’t pay informants in critical cases.
But still the shutdown dragged on.
And then it hit the airports. On Friday morning, Philadelphia, Newark and LaGuardia airports showed “significant departure delays,” according to USA Today. In Pittsburgh, flights two and from LaGuardia and Newark were affected. The Federal Aviation Administration noted “a slight increase in sick leave” among air traffic controllers, who have been working without pay.
Four hours later, a podium was standing in the White House Rose Garden. The president announced a three-week deal to get back government back on track.
But is it for good? Trump outlined that a bipartisan legislative committee would work on the contentious border security spending in that short window, saying “barrier or walls will be an important part of the solution,” and alluded to a “powerful alternative” —likely his threatened national emergency — to address his campaign promise wall if that doesn’t happen.
That only gives those lawmakers until Feb. 15 to figure out the wall situation.
It is believed that, while Democrats have flatly said no to the concrete all-caps “WALL” promised in the campaign, an answer would involve a balance of “smart” solutions Trump mentioned Friday and the complicated world of refugees, DACA recipients and system reform that has been on the table through multiple administrations.
As long as 35 days felt, a mere 20 days to negotiate something that couldn’t be hammered out between Trump and a Congress his party controlled isn’t encouraging now that the House is in Democratic hands. On Thursday, the Senate put two different proposals on the floor. Both failed, with six Republicans crossing the aisle to vote with Sen. Chuck Schumer’s Democrats.
The shutdown was already twice as long as any previous shuttering. Let’s hope there isn’t a sequel.