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Trump Agrees to Reopen Government Without Border Wall Funding

Analysis  |  By Steven Porter  
   January 25, 2019

The president made an announcement from the White House Rose Garden regarding the partial government shutdown.

President Donald Trump announced Friday afternoon that he will sign a short-term spending bill to reopen the federal government through February 15, ending the longest shutdown in U.S. history.

The announcement came as furloughed federal workers reached their second consecutive payday without a paycheck, putting a strain not only on their personal finances but also on the businesses that serve them.

In response to their patients' hardship, some health systems said they would allow affected federal employees to defer or even waive payment for healthcare services.

The shutdown began December 22 after Trump insisted that Congress authorize $5.7 billion for a border wall and lawmakers refused to do so. The three-week deal doesn't include any funding for the wall but gives more time for negotiations, while bringing federal employees back to work with back-pay.

Trump said he expects Democrats and Republicans alike to operate in good faith over the next three weeks to address concerns over border security, and teed up a potentially dramatic showdown.

"We really have no choice but to build a powerful wall or steel barrier," Trump said during a speech in the White House Rose Garden. "If we don't get a fair deal from Congress, the government will either shut down on February 15 again or I will use the powers afforded to me under the laws and Constitution of the United States to address this emergency."

Trump, who has reportedly considered paying for the wall by declaring a national emergency, left the podium without taking any questions.

The government's big-ticket health programs were already funded, so the partial shutdown hasn't directly impacted most programs operated by Health and Human Services or the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. The shutdown has, however, affected the Food and Drug Administration, which receives significant funding via the Department of Agriculture, and the Indian Health Service, which receives funding via the Department of the Interior, as Kaiser Health News' Shefali Luthra reported.

The shutdown also caused major healthcare-related litigation to hit a speed bump. The Fifth Circuit put an appeal over the Affordable Care Act's constitutionality on hold, and the Department of Justice asked a judge to delay review of CVS Health's megamerger with Aetna, but the judge declined, ordering DOJ attorneys to keep working.

Steven Porter is an associate content manager and Strategy editor for HealthLeaders, a Simplify Compliance brand.

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