Trump signs spending bill, ending U.S. government shutdown

U.S. President Donald Trump has signed a bill funding the government through Feb. 8, ending a 69-hour shutdown after Democrats accepted promises from Republicans for a broad debate later on the future of young illegal immigrants.

Short-term funding deal will keep the lights on through Feb. 8

U.S. Senators Susan Collins, centre right, addresses reporters with fellow Senators' Jeanne Shaheen, Tim Kaine, Heidi Heitkamp, Joe Manchin, Lindsey Graham, Amy Klobuchar and Jeff Flake after lawmakers struck a deal to reopen the federal government three days into a shutdown on Capitol Hill in Washington on Monday. (Leah Millis/Reuters)

U.S. President Donald Trump has signed a bill funding the government through Feb. 8, ending a 69-hour shutdown after Democrats accepted promises from Republicans for a broad debate later on the future of young illegal immigrants.

The fourth temporary funding bill since October easily passed the Senate and the House of Representatives. A White House official said Monday evening that Trump then signed the bill, which was a product chiefly of negotiations among Senate leaders.

The House approved the funding bill by a vote of 266-150 just hours after it passed the Senate by a vote of 81-18.

Trump's attempts to negotiate an end to the shutdown with Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer collapsed on Friday in recriminations and finger-pointing. The Republican president took a new swipe at Democrats as he celebrated the Senate's pact.

"I am pleased that Democrats in Congress have come to their senses," Trump said in a statement earlier on Friday. "We will make a long term deal on immigration if and only if it's good for the country."

Immigration and the budget are entangled because of Congress' failure last year to approve a budget on time by Oct. 1, just weeks after Trump ordered an end to Obama-era legal protections for young immigrants known as "dreamers" by the end of March.

The budget failure has necessitated passage by Congress of a series of temporary funding measures, giving Democrats leverage each step of the way since they hold votes needed to overcome a 60-vote threshold in the Senate for most legislation.

With government spending authority about to expire again at midnight on Friday, Democrats withheld support for a fourth stopgap spending bill and demanded action for the "dreamers."

The roughly 700,000 young people were brought to the United States illegally as children, mainly from Mexico and Central America. They mostly grew up in the United States.

Former president Barack Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program gave the "dreamers" legal protections and shielded them from deportation.

'Dreamers' and their supporters protest outside Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif., on Monday. (Lucy Nicholson/Reuters)

Immigration issue looms large

Democrats, as a condition of supporting a new spending stopgap, demanded a resolution of the uncertain future Trump created for the Dreamers with his DACA order last year.

But Democratic leaders, worried about being blamed for the disruptive shutdown that resulted, relented in the end and accepted a pledge by Republicans to hold a debate later over the fate of the Dreamers and related immigration issues.

Tens of thousands of federal workers had begun closing down operations for lack of funding on Monday, the first weekday since the shutdown, but essential services such as security and defence operations had continued.

The shutdown undercut Trump's self-crafted image as a deal-maker who would repair the broken culture in Washington.

It forced Trump to cancel a weekend trip to his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida and created uncertainty around his scheduled trip this week to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

The U.S. government cannot fully operate without funding bills that are voted in Congress regularly. Washington has been hampered by frequent threats of a shutdown in recent years as the two parties fight over spending, immigration and other issues. The last U.S. government shutdown was in 2013.

Both sides in Washington had tried to blame each other for the shutdown. The White House on Saturday refused to negotiate on immigration issues until the government reopened.

On Monday, Trump met separately at the White House with Republican senators who have taken a harder line on immigration and with moderate Democratic Senators Joe Manchin and Doug Jones.

A worker passes a café in Washington offering free coffee to federal employees near the the White House during the government shutdown on Monday. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

'Why do we have to wait?'

Some liberal groups were infuriated by the decision to reopen the government.

"Today's cave by Senate Democrats - led by weak-kneed, right-of-center Democrats — is why people don't believe the Democratic Party stands for anything," said Stephanie Taylor, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee.

For Jovan Rodriguez of Brooklyn, New York, a Dreamer whose family came from Mexico when he was 3 years old and ultimately settled in Texas, the latest development was more of the same.
 
"Why do we have to wait — again? It's like our lives are suspended in limbo," he said. "And they have been for months. I don't trust the Republicans and I don't trust [Senate Majority Leader Mitch] McConnell with just a promise. That's not good enough any more."

With files from The Associated Press

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