Updated Jan. 25
Day 35: What happened
President Trump signed a bill on Friday night to reopen the federal government for three weeks while negotiations proceed over how to secure the nation’s southern border. His action was a surprise retreat after a monthlong standoff with Democrats over billions of dollars for his proposed border wall, and prominent conservative voices criticized the president, using words like “weak,” “wimp” and “beta.”
The bill’s signing restores normal operations at a series of federal agencies until Feb. 15, and enables the 800,000 federal workers who have been furloughed or forced to work without paychecks to get paid (though it was not clear exactly when).
The Office of Management and Budget said in a letter to affected agencies and departments Friday that management should prepare for an “orderly reopening” and prioritize workers’ pay and benefits.
Many feared lingering financial difficulties, especially if, in February, Congress and Mr. Trump still fail to agree on a deal.
The news of the reopening came after flights were delayed in the Northeast, with the Federal Aviation Administration blaming it on a shortage of air traffic controllers as a result of the government shutdown. Additionally, federal employees missed another paycheck Friday.
So what happens on Feb. 15?
Over the next three weeks, a House-Senate conference committee representing both parties will try to reach a consensus on a border security plan.
If Republicans and Democrats cannot reach an agreement by Feb. 15, Mr. Trump indicated that he was ready to shut down the government once again, or declare a national emergency, which the White House argues would allow him to build the wall without lawmakers’ approval. (That approach would almost certainly face legal challenges.)
We could hear more about Mr. Trump’s position in the State of the Union address, which was originally scheduled for Tuesday and was postponed at the urging of Speaker Nancy Pelosi. It was not immediately clear when the speech might proceed.
[Sign up for the Morning Briefing newsletter for a look at what you need to know to begin your day.]
Federal workers felt the pressure
When the shutdown began, just over half of the roughly 800,000 federal workers who were left without pay continued to work, including members of the Coast Guard and food safety inspectors. The number of people working grew as the Trump administration reinterpreted longstanding rules, often to the benefit of the president’s base.
Federal workers who have in the past turned down opportunities to enter the lucrative private sector are now feeling less certain about that decision. Some have already left the government or are talking about leaving.
Aviation professionals issued a warning that threats to the safety of the nation’s air travel system were compounding by the day. The airline industry reported that it was losing revenue. The funding freeze also hindered the F.B.I.’s efforts to crack down on child trafficking, violent crime and terrorism.
Furloughed federal employees started part-time jobs with delivery and ride-hailing apps and have applied for other opportunities, such as yoga-instructor positions, to try to make ends meet. Some turned to pawn shops.
Many federal workers have filed for unemployment benefits. In Washington, local programs have sprouted up to support the city’s large, struggling federal work force. Nationally, an informal network of businesses mobilized to ease the pain.
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said Thursday that federal workers who had not been paid during the shutdown should take out loans to stay afloat. Furloughed employees balked.
Federal courts, which remained open despite the shutdown, were expected to run out of money by the end of the month. Some courts delayed civil cases, and court-appointed lawyers were not paid at all.
And the shutdown was also felt by cultural institutions. It caused museums in Washington to close and put exhibitions, like the National Gallery of Art’s Tintoretto show, at risk. It even endangered a sculpture that was recently launched into orbit.
The rippling effects on the economy
The White House acknowledged recently that the shutdown had a far greater toll on the United States economy than previously thought.
Americans remain relatively upbeat about their personal finances, but became increasingly worried about the economy during the shutdown, according to a recent poll conducted for The Times by the online research firm SurveyMonkey.
Low-income Americans whose leases are subsidized by the government worried about their rent because the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which is closed, could not make payments to landlords.
Some of the most vulnerable Americans — including the homeless, older people and those one crisis away from the streets — felt the burden most keenly. Without payments from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, nonprofit groups that support low-income renters were also struggling. Many other social safety net programs were facing similar crises.
Legions of contractors were put out of work and, unlike federal employees working without pay, they have no expectation of recovering the missed wages.
By MATTHEW HAAG and NIRAJ CHOKSHI