Donald Trump has endorsed a temporary funding bill that will offer time for politicians and the White House to continue debating his demand for border wall funds, while assuring federal workers get their pay.
Speaking from the Rose Garden at the White House on Friday afternoon, Mr Trump said, “We have reached a deal to end the shutdown and reopen the federal government.”
As if responding to the commentary from pundits who considered a deal to be the Trump administration caving in, Mr Trump said: “As everyone knows I have a very powerful alternative but I didn’t want to use it at this time. Hopefully it won’t be necessary.”
Mr Trump went on to thank the workers and their families who spent 36 days without wages, calling them “fantastic people and incredible patriots.”
“In a short while I will sign a bill to re-open our government for three weeks. I will make sure all employees will receive their back pay very quickly or as soon as possible,” Mr Trump said.
Mr Trump then segued into the reason for the shutdown: his demands for border wall funding. He said that in 36 days of “spirited debate” Democrats and Republicans “put partisanship aside and put the security of the American people first.”
“They have fully acknowledged that having barriers, fences, walls or whatever you want to call it will be an important part of the solution.”
Mr Trump said he will be asking Homeland Security experts to put together a package to “shortly sign into law”
“Walls should not be controversial … They work. They keep criminals out. They save good people from attempting very dangerous journeys because they think they have a glimmer of hope. They don’t have that hope.”
Mr Trump said the barrier will stop “illicit flows of people and drugs” as well as smugglers, gangs, human traffickers, narcotics, and “criminal aliens”.
He said that over 60,000 illegal immigrants have been apprehended on the Southern border
attracted by the “strongest economy in the entire world”.
Mt Trump re-emphasised his preference for a merit-based immigration system and warned that
“If we don’t get a fair deal from Congress, the government will shut down again or I will use the powers of laws afforded to me under the Constitution of the United States to address this emergency.”
The government has been partially shut since December 22 as politicians and the White House fought over how to address illegal immigration at the US border with Mexico.
Mr Trump has insisted on $US5.7 billion to fund a wall along the border to fulfil an oft-repeated campaign promise but Democrats, who now control the House of Representatives, have rejected his demand.
The lapse in funding, the longest in US history, has shuttered about one-quarter of federal agencies, with about 800,000 workers either furloughed or required to work without pay.
It comes as a new ABC News/Washington Post poll found that 53 per cent of Americans blame Mr Trump and Republicans for the shutdown, and that 60 per cent disapprove of how the US president is handling efforts to end it.