Donald Trump has finally backed down over the border wall, agreeing to put a temporary end to the partial government shutdown.
But it’s come at a cost, with many of the President’s allies walking away feeling outplayed after the 35-day lapse in funding.
Mr Trump has emerged even less popular than he was before the shutdown began, with a new ABC News/Washington Post poll seeing his approval rating hit a historic low.
Even his biggest conservative supporters in the media have turned on him.
HOW PELOSI BROUGHT TRUMP TO HIS KNEES
Critics on both sides of politics have largely credited House Speaker Nancy Pelosi with Mr Trump’s backdown, saying she “out-dealt” the President.
“In Pelosi, Trump has encountered a canny and implacable foe, with an intimate understanding of the power invested in the Congress. She would not be bullied or cowed,” writes CNN’s David Axelrod.
Political commentator Ann Coulter ripped into the US leader, calling him the “biggest wimp ever to serve as President of the United States” for backing down.
“He promised something for 18 months and he lied about it,” she told HBO host Bill Maher.
Similarly, in labelling Mr Trump’s government shutdown a failure, conservative Fox Business host Lou Dobbs credited Ms Pelosi with bringing it to an end at last.
“I mean, she has just whipped the President of the United States,” he said. “This President said it was going to be conditional, border security, building that wall, and he just reversed himself.
“That’s a victory for Nancy Pelosi. It will be perceived as such on every television monitor and screen in the country — and to deny it is to try to escape from reality, and that we ain’t going to do here.”
An ABC analysis said Ms Pelosi forced Mr Trump to “wave a rare white flag of surrender” over the wall.
“First she forced him into a corner. Second, she stared him down. Third, she didn’t move. At all.
“The President’s backdown on the State of the Union is just one battle in the greater war, to be sure. But in a key, early test of the Democrats’ mettle now that they own the House, Ms Pelosi hasn’t blinked.”
So, just how did she do it?
The Democrats were staunchly and consistently opposed to the GOP-backed plan to reopen the government. Ms Pelosi described Mr Trump’s offer of a bill to temporarily reopen the government in exchange for a deposit for the wall as a “total non-starter”.
From the start, the House Speaker refused to give ground, repeatedly insisting he would not be given the funds to build the border wall.
The first meeting between Mr Trump, Ms Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer last month ended in a sparring match with personal attacks sledged at one another — marked by many as a sign of things to come.
But despite increasing pressure and 800,000 federal workers without a pay cheque over the six weeks following that meeting, Ms Pelosi continued to insist that funding the wall wasn’t an option.
“By the time President Donald Trump capitulated (on) Friday, ending the shutdown, Pelosi had burnished her image as the shrewd, steely and unquestioned leader of her party,” wrote Associated Press’s Alan Fram. “That makes her a formidable opponent in what looms as a perilous two years for the White House before the 2020 election.”
He credited Ms Pelosi with repeatedly standing up to Mr Trump and challenging his intelligence, as well as her move to block him from using the House chamber to deliver his planned State of the Union address.
Ms Pelosi herself insisted it wasn’t a “power play”, but critics disagreed.
“It unmistakably was a contest between Washington’s two power centres, each gauging the other’s tenacity and smarts,” wrote Fram. “In a city where perception begets influence, Pelosi clearly emerged with the upper hand.”
CNN also noted Ms Pelosi did a good job at keeping the Democrats unified — a typical weakness for the party.
“She ruled the caucus with an iron fist, making certain that none of her members opted for some kind of bipartisan deal contravening her approach,” writes CNN’s Julian Zelizer. “This kind of party unity is something that the Republicans have perfected, but Democrats can have trouble maintaining.”
He added: “Many new members of the House were uncertain about voting for Pelosi to be their leader. She quickly quashed the insurgents.
“But now, in her first official confrontation with Trump, she has proven her chops to all of them.
“It is no wonder the President has been so reluctant to tweet about her or give her a demeaning nickname.
“He has seen his top opponent, and the President is scared.”
TRUMP PREPARED TO ISSUE SECOND SHUTDOWN
But the Democrats’ victory may prove short-lived.
Two days after the record-long shutdown ended, the White House made it clear overnight that Mr Trump is prepared to shutter the government again without a border wall deal from Congress.
His standoff with Democrats on Capitol Hill is far from over and the clock is ticking — the spending bill Trump signed on Friday funds the government agencies that had been shut down for 35 days only until February 15. It’s unclear if the Democrats will budge.
In a tweet he issued overnight, Mr Trump seemed ready for battle:
BUILD A WALL & CRIME WILL FALL! pic.twitter.com/yDdCG5DCxn
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 27, 2019
Is Trump prepared to shut down the government again in three weeks?
“Yeah, I think he actually is,” acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney said. “He doesn’t want to shut the government down, let’s make that very clear. He doesn’t want to declare a national emergency.”
But Mr Mulvaney said that at “the end of the day, the President’s commitment is to defend the nation and he will do it with or without Congress.”
The President also tweeted on Sunday that the cost of illegal immigration so far this year was nearly $US19 billion ($A26 billion). He didn’t cite a source.
We are not even into February and the cost of illegal immigration so far this year is $18,959,495,168. Cost Friday was $603,331,392. There are at least 25,772,342 illegal aliens, not the 11,000,000 that have been reported for years, in our Country. So ridiculous! DHS
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 27, 2019
Mr Mulvaney told Fox News Sunday that the President agreed to temporarily end the shutdown because some Democrats have stepped forward, publicly and privately, to say they agree with his plan to better secure the border. Mr Mulvaney said they told Trump they couldn’t split with Ms Pelosi and Mr Schumer, and work with the White House if the government remained closed.
“Everybody wants to look at this and say the President lost,” Mr Mulvaney said. “We’re still in the middle of negotiations.”
Mr Mulvaney said the President is not seeking a “2000-mile sea to shining sea” wall. The White House has identified 17 priorities for building barriers to discourage illegal crossings. “It’s about 243 miles (391km),” he said. “It’s the wall, where we need it the most and where we need it the quickest.
“At the end of the day, the President is going to secure the border one way or another.”
— with AP