President Trump thanked furloughed federal workers for their devotion during the shutdown and credited them with helping to make America great again.
WASHINGTON – While many applauded an end to the 35-day government shutdown, some conservatives saw something else: President Donald Trump’s defeat.
Trump announced on Friday a deal to reopen the government for three weeks, allowing some 800,000 federal employees to start receiving pay and giving time for lawmakers to negotiate funding for a wall along the southern border.
What was absent in the deal was any additional money for border security or a wall, Trump’s signature campaign promise and what led to the shuttering of the federal government for 35 days.
Conservatives took notice. Many weren’t pleased and didn’t mince their words.
“Good news for George Herbert Walker Bush: As of today, he is no longer the biggest wimp ever to serve as President of the United States,” hardline Republican Ann Coulter wrote on Twitter.
“I’m disgusted. There’s no other way to put it,” Mike Cernovich, a conservative blogger, said in a video after Trump’s announcement.
“I don’t like to be lied to,” Cernovich added. “Just say I’m not going to build the wall. I’m a coward. I don’t have what it takes.”
Trump’s decision to reopen the government echoed what Democrats had been demanding for weeks: reopen the government then negotiate over a border wall.
Fact-check: Five things from Trump’s Friday speech explained
The president said he wouldn’t sign a bill that didn’t include funding for the wall and for weeks dug his heels in, even saying at one point that the shutdown could last months or even years until border security was addressed.
Trump’s decision on Friday to reopen the government gave Democrats a victory lap. The hashtag #TrumpCaved became the top trend on Twitter.
The president, however, insisted reopening the government was not a “concession” but a temporary measure to allow the 800,000 federal workers, who weren’t being paid, some relief.
“I wish people would read or listen to my words on the Border Wall. This was in no way a concession,” Trump said in a tweet Friday evening. “It was taking care of millions of people who were getting badly hurt by the Shutdown with the understanding that in 21 days, if no deal is done, it’s off to the races!”
While some of Trump’s base was dismayed by his decision, others held out hope that a bigger plan was underway.
“President Trump loses this round,” actor and conservative James Woods posted on Twitter. “So be it. Let’s be gracious and extend congratulations to #NancyPelosi and #ChuckSchumer.”
He added: “It is now crystal clear, however, that the #Democrats own our open borders policy. Any consequences are theirs alone.”
Others sought to stick up for Trump and mend divisions among Republicans who attacked his decision, including some who appeared to turn on him.
“Don’t waver in your support of @realDonaldTrump – he is fighting , ALONE , daily to protect our country and to fulfill the promises from the campaign,” tweeted Charlie Kirk, the founder of the conservative campus group Turning Point USA. “I’m so sick of people from our side finding every excuse to attack the greatest president of our lifetime We must have his back.”
It’s not entirely clear what could happen if a deal isn’t stuck by Feb. 15 when funding again will run out.
The federal government could once again shutdown or the president could elect to use executive authority to redirect money for his border wall, something he’s hinted at for weeks.
In his speech Friday, he appeared to point out that was still an option.
“As everyone knows, I have a very powerful alternative, but I didn’t want to use it at this time,” Trump said. “Hopefully it will be unnecessary.”
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