Trump on Friday said he would sign Congress’ $1.3 trillion spending bill – a decision that averts a government shutdown by a matter of hours.
“As a matter of national security, I have signed this omnibus budget bill,” said Trump, who had threatened to veto it just hours earlier. “There are a lot of things that I’m unhappy about…that we shouldn’t have had in this bill, but we were in a sense forced – if we want to build our military – we were forced to have.”
The bill gives troops the largest pay increase in more than 10 years, noted Trump, and will help us rebuild a military depleted by years of “deep” defense cuts.
“We are very disappointed that in order to fund the military, we had to give up things we were considering…but that’s the way, unfortunately right now, the system works,” said Trump, adding that he would “never sign a bill like this again.” Trump also called on Congress to end the filibuster rule and to provide him with a line item veto.
The $1.3 trillion spending package includes money for border security improvements, but not for the type of wall Trump has been promising to build, and does not include protections for Dreamers. It allocates significant funding to help fight the opioid epidemic, but maintains funding for Planned Parenthood and sanctuary cities.
“I am considering a VETO…based on the fact that the 800,000 plus DACA recipients have been totally abandoned by the Democrats (not even mentioned in Bill) and the BORDER WALL, which is desperately needed for our National Defense, is not fully funded,” tweeted Trump Friday morning.
Trump’s last-minute decision to sign the bill follows a 45-minute meeting with Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), who urged him to sign it. Ryan told reporters Thursday that Trump was on board.
“My highest duty is to keep American safe,” Trump told reporters Friday afternoon. “Nothing more important. The omnibus bill reverses this dangerous defense as crazy as it’s been, as difficult as it’s been, as much opposition to the military as we’ve had from the Democrats.”
Trump also criticized the way the bill was passed, suggesting lawmakers did not have time to read it. “As you know, it has always been a problem for our country,” said Trump. “They get together and create a series of documents that nobody has been able to read because it was just done. You tell me who can read that quickly.”
The 2,232-page measure was unveiled Wednesday and passed Thursday, meaning lawmakers had less than 24 hours to read the massive document.
Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) was one of several Republicans who expressed frustration with the way the bill was passed. “You have to know what’s in it. Really, should we be looking at 1,000-page bills with 24 hours to decide what’s in them? It’s really not a good way to run your government.”
The final Senate vote was 65-32, with 39 Democrats voting in favor and 23 Republicans voting against.
Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and others believe the bill gives too many concessions to the Democrats. “There’s no wall. Ultimately, the Democrats controlled this process,” said McConnell during an interview with Fox News.