Georgia lawmakers voiced support Friday for a bipartisan deal that would temporarily reopen shuttered portions of the federal government, but the two sides did not appear any closer to agreement as the debate over President Donald Trump’s proposed border wall entered a new phase.
Local Democrats and Republicans alike expressed relief after Trump announced he had struck an agreement with Democratic leaders to bring an end to the partial shutdown that had left an estimated 16,000 federal workers in Georgia furloughed or working without pay. But most indicated they wanted their respective sides to yield little ground in upcoming talks over border security funding.
“I applaud the president for his continued forthright efforts to enter into good-faith negotiations with House and Senate Democrats,” said U.S. Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., a top Trump ally. “Many Democrats have supported and voted for border security in the past, but throughout this process they’ve clearly demonstrated they want to keep immigration as a political issue and not find a real solution.”
U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Lithonia, said he was “very happy” the shutdown was coming to an end.
“Never again should a president put a gun to the head of Congress and take hostages in an effort to coerce Congress to do his bidding,” said Johnson, who earlier this month drew international headlines for comparing Trump to Adolf Hitler.
Friday’s deal sought to reopen the nine shuttered federal departments through Feb. 15 and provide back pay to roughly 800,000 federal workers who had missed two paychecks because of the 35-day standoff.
The agreement also bought a bipartisan group of lawmakers time to negotiate on border security funding and the wall.
U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., who had previously raised alarms about the local impact of the shutdown and voted Thursday in favor of a Democratic plan to end the shutdown, said he hoped lawmakers could “sit down and negotiate in earnest to secure our border and get the government back in operating order.”
Democratic leaders on Friday did not say whether they would ultimately be willing to approve any money for a border wall, the central ask by Trump and many Georgia Republicans. And the president said in no uncertain terms late Friday that he was willing to declare a national emergency to secure money to build the wall. It’s possible that under such a designation, federal money for Georgia projects, including the Savannah port, could be diverted.
“If Democrats refuse to work with us to tackle this national priority over the next few weeks, President Trump will do what is necessary to protect America,” said Perdue, whose office said he was in “ongoing conversations” with the president over the past 24 hours.”
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