(KNX 1070/AP) -- As the holidays drew near toward the end of December, both Republicans and Democrats in Congress thought they had a deal with President Trump to fund the federal government, at least for several weeks into the new year.
But then the President heard it from his conservative base and from one person in particular: if you don't use government funding as leverage to get your promised border wall, you'll be considered a loser. That one person, who has been credited with single-handedly forcing the government shutdown, is conservative commentator and columnist Ann Coulter.
Yielding to mounting pressure and growing disruption, President Donald Trump and congressional leaders on Friday reached a short-term deal to reopen the government for three weeks while negotiations continue over the president's demands for money to build his long-promised wall at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Trump announced the agreement to break the 35-day impasse as intensifying delays at the nation's airports and widespread disruptions brought new urgency to efforts to resolve the standoff.
"I am very proud to announce today that we have reached a deal to end the shutdown and reopen the federal government," he said from the Rose Garden.
After saying for weeks that he would not reopen the government without border wall money, Trump said he would soon sign a bill to re-open the government through Feb. 15 without additional money for his signature campaign promise. He said that a bipartisan committee of lawmakers would be formed to consider border spending before the new deadline.
"They are willing to put partisanship aside, I think, and put the security of the American people first," Trump said. He asserted that "barrier or walls will be an important part of the solution."
But he hinted that he was still considering taking unilateral action if efforts to come up with money for his wall fail. "I have a very powerful alternative, but I didn't want to use it at this time," he said.
Overnight and into Friday, at least five Republican senators had been calling Trump, urging him to reopen the government and have the Senate consider his request for border wall money through regular legislation, according to a person familiar with the situation who was not authorized to discuss the private talks publicly.
The breakthrough came as LaGuardia Airport in New York and Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey both experienced at least 90-minute delays in takeoffs Friday due to the shutdown. And the world's busiest airport — Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport — was experiencing long security wait times, a warning sign the week before it expects 150,000 out-of-town visitors for the Super Bowl.