Government shutdown ends at least for awhile; Tester part of negotiating team

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Lake McDonald on a rare sunny afternoon.

President Trump late Friday said he would end the partial federal government shutdown until at least Feb. 15, which will reopen government services while Congress tries to hammer out a deal on southern border security.

The shutdown, which has been ongoing since Dec. 22, closed both Forest Service and Park Service offices locally and put hundreds out of work. Glacier National Park stayed open and crews plowed the Going-to-the-Sun Road to Lake McDonald Lodge during the shutdown, but there were little services beyond that.

Park rangers continued to work, but other employees didn’t work at all.

Law enforcement on the Flathead National Forest also worked without pay. The Forest’s cabin rental program continued and timber sales that had already been let also continued, because they had separate sources of revenue.

“This short-term deal ends the shutdown and provides Montana’s dedicated federal employees with the paychecks they need,” said Montana Republican Congressman Greg Gianforte. “The deal also gives Democrats and Republicans an opportunity to come to the table, negotiate in good faith, and find a long-term solution to fund the government and secure our borders. Based on what I saw when I toured the southern border this week and talked with ranchers and border patrol agents about the challenges they face, we can’t afford to have open borders, and we must make critical investments in substantial, strong physical barriers to secure them.”

Montana Sen. Jon Tester, who serves as ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security, will help lead a small bipartisan group of lawmakers tasked with crafting border security legislation, his office said. The bipartisan group will include Democratic Senators Patrick Leahy of Vermont and Dick Durbin of Illinois, as well as Republican Senators Richard Shelby of Alabama, John Hoeven of North Dakota, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, and Roy Blunt of Missouri.

“For the first time in 35 days, 800,000 federal workers and their families can breathe a sigh of relief. But the deal struck today is only a short-term fix to this irresponsible government shutdown. Now we’ve got to work together to craft a long-term bipartisan solution that actually protects our communities and doesn’t undermine American workers,” Tester said in a statement on Friday.

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