For the 800,000 federal employees who were forced to work without pay or furloughed, President Donald Trump’s announcement Friday that he would temporarily end the longest government shutdown in U.S. history signaled a return to normality.
Trump promised that those workers would receive back pay “very quickly, or as soon as possible.”
But when will their checks arrive? When will shuttered national park buildings reopen? What awaits furloughed employees who haven’t worked since before Christmas? When will the nine affected agencies be able to resume full operation?
Alex Jay Berman, a union leader who works in customer service at the IRS, said he didn’t have any answers yet for his more than 3,300 members.
“We don’t know when we’ll be back to work, and perhaps most importantly, we don’t know when paychecks will come out,” he said.
The Liberty Bell and Independence Hall opened Saturday at 10 a.m. while the Independence Visitor Center will return to its normal schedule Sunday, with hours from 8:30 a.m. until 6 p.m., spokesperson Nicole Woods said in an update Saturday morning.
The government will reopen until at least Feb. 15 under the bill the president signed authorizing the temporary reopening. The 35-day shutdown began on Dec. 22.
Katharine Young, an associate professor at Boston College Law School who studies comparative constitutional law and has written about government shutdowns, said the temporary nature of the reopening worries her, but like everyone else, she is waiting to see what will happen over the next three weeks.
"I think it’s wonderful [the government] is reopening again and that the workers will be as effective as they can possibly be in getting things moving again,” she said.
While everyone waits on answers from Washington, here’s a look back at two past shutdowns and what happened after they ended.
In 1996, lawmakers approved a deal to temporarily end the 21-day shutdown — the previous record — on the first Friday of the year.
The Independence Visitor Center opened that Saturday, while Valley Forge National Historical Park was slower to fully reopen because workers were busy clearing snow from the grounds.
Federal employees resumed work that Monday — except for those who were unable. There was a crippling East Coast blizzard that kept many employees out of the office for three days.
The 2013 government shutdown ended in 16 days — about half the length of this one.
The Senate voted the evening of Oct. 16 to end it, followed by the House a few hours later. Obama signed the bill in the early morning hours of Oct. 17.
Independence Hall and Valley Forge Park reopened to tourists later that day.