Trump Signs $1.3 Trillion Spending Plan on ‘National Security’ Grounds

WASHINGTON (CN) – President Donald Trump signed a $1.3 trillion government spending bill Friday afternoon hours after his surprise declaration that he intended to veto it because it did not address DACA recipients and did not fully fund his proposed border wall.

The signing came after an extraordinary morning at the White House. Early in the day, Trump raised the threat of a government shutdown by tweeting he was rejecting the bill.

The blast from Trump caught Capitol Hill by surprise and unready to respond to the threat. Many members of the House and Senate have already left town as Congress heads into a two-week recess.

Later the president again took to Twitter to announce he was holding at press conference at 1 p.m. The White House later announced Trump’s appearance would be a “press availability” open only to pool reporters.

Trump said he was signing the bill — “despite the ridiculous process” by which it was crafted — on national security grounds.

“There are a lot of things I am unhappy about in this bill,” the president said. “There are a lot of things in it that we shouldn’t have added.”

He repeated his claims that “DACA recipients have been treated extremely badly” and laid the blame on the Democrats.

“We wanted to include DACA in this bill. The Democrats would not do it,” Trump said, not mentioning that he was the one that ended

He then angrily vowed to “never sign another bill like this again.”

“Nobody read it. It’s only hours old,” he said, adding that “we have to get rid of the filibuster rule” in the Senate and go to a simple majority vote.

He also said he is asking Congress to give him line-item veto authority on future federal budgets.

Trump said the spending bill will provide an “initial down payment” for his promised border wall.

The package provides $1.6 billion for building new sections of wall and replacing older sections.

That’s much less than the $25 billion Trump wants. But Trump says the permitted work will begin “literally on Monday.”

He says, “this is a short term funding, but it’s immediate.”

The 65-32 Senate vote taken shortly after midnight funds the government for the rest of the fiscal year and puts a temporary end to the fights over short-term spending bills that have been a fixture of the first year of the Trump administration.

The bill follows the outline of a budget agreement Congressional leaders struck in February to lift budget caps put in place during the Obama administration, ratcheting up spending for both defense and non-defense programs.

The House Appropriations committee did not formally release a bill until Wednesday night, leaving lawmakers in a time crunch with the latest short term government funding agreement set to expire on Friday and a two-week Congressional recess scheduled to begin next week.

Alongside the $654 billion in defense spending included in the legislation, the bill also includes $1.5 billion to construct roughly 90 miles of fence along the Southwest border. The funding is well below what Trump has in the past sought for his promised border wall, but comes along with additional money for the Department of Homeland Security to put more patrols along the border.

But the bill also does not contain language extending deportation protections for people in the country illegally who were brought to the United States as children, despite calls from lawmakers to include the provision.

The bill also includes roughly $4 billion to fund programs meant to combat the opioid epidemic.

In response to the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., the bill includes $2.3 billion for the federal agencies to undertake mental health and school safety programs, as well as a bipartisan piece of legislation that seeks to strengthen a national background check system for gun purchases.

The massive piece of legislation also pumps $21 billion into infrastructure projects.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., praised the legislation as a difficult, imperfect, but necessary compromise between lawmakers.

“Months of in-depth bicameral, bipartisan negotiations and committee work have led up to this point,” McConnell said on the Senate floor on Thursday morning. “The result is legislation that neither side sees as perfect – but which contains a host of significant victories and important achievements on behalf of the American people.”

House conservatives expressed concern over the pace at which the bill came together, arguing there simply wasn’t enough time between when the committee released the bill and the vote for members to have read what they passed.

“We are growing the size of government at a break-neck pace,” Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., said in a statement about the bill, which he voted against. “And we are doing all of this through a 2,300 page spending bill, written privately by four leadership members, that because public only 24 hours ago. This is wrong. This is not the limited government conservatism our voters demand. Our constituents – our employers – deserve better.”

As Thursday wore on, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., appeared a threat to derail another spending bill, having pushed a vote on the most recent short term agreement just past a deadline on Feb. 9. Paul spent much of Thursday tweeting out his progress on reading the bill, commenting on various provisions he found wasteful or that he would have changed.

Paul did not hold up the vote on the spending bill this time around, but did vote against the legislation, calling it an explosion of government spending.

“Congress must do better for the American people,” Paul said in a statement after the vote. “We can support our military without further endangering our nation through fiscal recklessness and I will keep fighting to hold our party to the conservative principles we had no problem proclaiming during the Obama years.”

%d bloggers like this: