On Friday, President Trump announced from the Rose Garden that he will agree to a short-term deal to reopen the government as talks continue about his border wall.
While by no means ideal, the deal will at least allow 800,000 government workers (not the contractors, though) to get back pay for the past five weeks, the longest partial government shutdown in U.S. history. With the shutdown impacting national security, the Federal Aviation Administration temporarily halting flights to New York's LaGuardia Airport, and many workers forced to work without pay, the need to reopen the government has been urgent.
Who do we have to thank for Trump caving? House Speaker Nancy Patricia D'Alesandro Pelosi, for pulling power moves on him all day long.
For starters, Pelosi has made reopening the government a condition for negotiating on the $5.7 billion border wall in the first place. Which is not to say Democrats will agree to a wall; they are reportedly about to roll out their own border security proposal that includes more immigration judges and border patrol agents, as well as additional technology, but no additional walls (or steel barriers).
Then there was the State of the Union letter. In his special way, Trump decided that he would be holding the January 29 State of the Union address despite the government shutdown, writing to Pelosi on Wednesday that, "It would be so very sad for our Country if the State of the Union were not delivered on time, on schedule, and very importantly, on location!"
But Madame Speaker reminded him that it's her House — the House Chamber is, after all, where the State of the Union address is traditionally held. "I am writing to inform you that the House of Representatives will not consider a concurrent resolution authorizing the President’s State of the Union address in the House Chamber until government has opened," Pelosi wrote back. With no real choice (except possibly holding the speech at the Trump International Hotel, or a McDonald's), he agreed to postpone it until the government reopened.
This afternoon, I sent @realDonaldTrump a letter informing him that the House will not consider a concurrent resolution authorizing the President’s State of the Union address in the House Chamber until government has opened. https://t.co/r1oad0xEAh pic.twitter.com/kGEbayx95u— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) January 23, 2019
Today, the scale of power definitively tipped back in favor of Nancy Pelosi, rubbing it in for those who had called for her to step down to make way for younger House leadership. After a torturous 35 days, she ceded exactly nothing to Trump. With that, she's once again proven herself as a masterful negotiator. (Who wrote the Art of the Deal again?)
Congress still has to pass a spending deal in order for the government to be reopened, and both Senate Majority Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer have reportedly said they are on board with the deal.
Of course, Trump is still demanding that any long-term spending deal include money for a wall, and has threatened to use his executive powers to declare a national emergency over it. "If we don’t get a fair deal from Congress, the government will either shut down on February 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," he said. But somehow we have a feeling Pelosi will get the last laugh.
PELOSI: "We're grateful to Democrats on both sides of the aisle for their unity that was very, very important in these discussions. It's sad, though, that it's taken this long to come to an obvious conclusion... Disagreement in policy should never be a reason to shut down govt." pic.twitter.com/eJNhD8kJ7I— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) January 25, 2019