US Congress approves $1.3-trillion spending bill, sends to Donald Trump

Mar 26, 2018, 01:02
US Congress approves $1.3-trillion spending bill, sends to Donald Trump

With Congress already out of town, the government will head toward a shutdown if Trump does not sign the bill Friday.

He says, "my highest duty is to keep America safe" and that he's signed it "as a matter of national security".

But in the end, he signed the bill while also saying that no one was more disappointed about it than him.

"At least they didn't [approve] that - but they certainly missed the opportunity to fund or defund things that legitimately should have been part of the omnibus bill".

"But because of the incredible gains that we've been able to make for the military, that overrode any of our thinking", he said at a hastily arranged news conference. "I will never sign another bill like this again", Trump said during a hastily arranged signing ceremony, but he chose to so because the plan includes necessary military spending.

"Nobody read it. It's only hours old", Trump said at the bill's signing ceremony.

In a morning tweet, Trump said he might veto the omnibus bill because it does nothing to address the fate of those protected from deportation by the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and does not fully fund his border wall. To boost the party-in-power's ability to muscle its agenda through Congress, he called for an overhaul of Senate rules to allow for simple-majority votes on all bills and appealed to Congress for line-item veto power to kill specific spending items he disagrees with.

Still, President Trump's tweet was cheered by the conservative House Freedom Caucus, which voted against the spending bill along with two dozen Republicans in the Senate.

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The bill provided $1.6 billion for border security and construction or fix of almost 100 miles (160 kilometers) of border fencing, but that was far less than Trump had been seeking.

A presidential veto would likely result in a government shutdown when most federal funding authority expires at midnight Friday. The White House also issued a formal statement of administration policy indicating Trump would sign the bill.

"The Republicans are with you, they want to get your situation taken care of", Trump said, speaking directly to DACA recipients.

Aides had been insisting Trump would sign the measure because it authorizes tens of billions of dollars in additional military spending.

Trump's veto threat contradicts what White House budget director Mick Mulvaney told reporters on Thursday.

Trump also balked at the overall $1.3 trillion price tag of the bill - "the number is so large; it'll start coming down" - but said "we had no choice but to fund our military".

"We made a promise to the country that we would rebuild our military".

Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., responded to Trump's tweet, encouraging the president to veto a "totally irresponsible bill" that will burden future generations.

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That would have been an embarrassment to Republicans, who control the White House and Congress.

He said that in negotiations on Capitol Hill in recent weeks there has been "tremendous opposition from Democrats to creating what will be, by far, the strongest military that we've ever had". "The spending levels without any offsets are grotesque, throwing all of our children under the bus".

"I think he got a full understanding of how bad this legislation is", Jordan said.

Instead, Trump won $1.6 billion to begin building and replacing segments of the wall along the border with Mexico.

"It's a amusing thing", said Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat.

Senate Democratic leader Charles Schumer, of NY, said, "every bill takes compromise, and there was plenty here, but at the end of the day, we Democrats feel very good because so many of our priorities for the middle class were included".

As agreed upon at that time, the bill boosts defence spending - a key demand of Trump and Republicans - by $80 billion.

The bill includes a gun-related measure incentivizing states and federal agencies to submit more of their records to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), which flags people like felons and domestic abusers who are banned from buying guns.

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If the Democrats would do what they were elected to do maybe Washington would work better.

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