The waiting is over, President Donald Trump signed the $1.3 trillion spending measure on Friday and a government shutdown is averted. He signed the measure just hours after saying that he was considering a veto.
The president did complain that the massive legislation does not fully fund his agenda for a border wall with Mexico and it does not address the 800,000 “Dreamers” who are now protected from deportation under a program that will be eliminated. The reason Trump said he signed the measure was to provide needed money for the military.
The president had cast a shadow on the future of the legislation, saying he was “considering” a veto. He scheduled a news conference and that added to the intensity of what many were wondering might happen. Trump had said that young immigrants now protected under Obama’s Delayed Action for Childhood Arrivals “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.”
But insiders at the White House said that these words were Trump just blowing off steam. The drama dissipated when an internal White House television feed advertised the news conference this way: “President Trump Participates in a Bill Signing.”
Trump’s signature came just hours after the Senate passed the $1.3 trillion spending package in the early morning hours on Friday. The president had been frustrated with the media coverage of the bill. Conservative lawmakers were highly critical on cable news. When the president tweeted his possible veto, it was cheered by the conservative House Freedom Caucus. They voted against he spending bill along with two dozen GOP senators.
Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., chairman of the freedom caucus and a friend of the president, said in a tweet that his group would “fully support” a veto. He added that Congress should pass a short-term budget resolution while Trump and congressional leaders “negotiate a better deal for the forgotten men and women of America.”
Sen. Senator Bob Corker, R-Tenn., also egged Trump on. “Please do, Mr. President,” he tweeted. “I am just down the street and will bring you a pen. The spending levels without any offsets are grotesque, throwing all of our children under the bus. Totally irresponsible.”
“Make my day, Mr. President,” taunted Rep. Kurt Schrader, D-Ore.
Most of the Republican opposition stemmed from the budget caps-busting nature of the bill.
The spending package includes $1.6 billion for Trump’s long-promised border wall with Mexico, but that is far less than the $25 billion over 10 years Trump had asked for as part of a last-ditch deal that would have included providing a temporary extension of the DACA program.
Trump and his team have still tried to spin the funding as a win for their agenda.
“We ended up asking for 74 miles worth of wall, we get 110. Not exactly what we wanted where we wanted,” said budget director Mick Mulvaney Thursday. “But generally speaking, we think this is a really, really good immigration package,” he said. And Trump has pinned the failure with DACA squarely on the Democrats.“They don’t want DACA” and are merely trying to use the issue as “a political football.”
The spending measure passed easily in the House with a 256-167 vote, but stalled in the Senate while conservatives ran the clock in protest. Eventually the major opponents relented and when the vote was taken, it passed 65 to 32.
“Shame, shame. A pox on both Houses – and parties,” tweeted Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., who spent the afternoon tweeting details found in the 2,200-page bill that was released the night before. “No one has read it. Congress is broken.”
The omnibus spending was intended to avoid the stopgap measures Congress has been forced into, five in this fiscal year alone. They just keep the government running temporarily while both parties continue feuding.
White House legislative director Marc Short said it was a compromise. “I can’t sit here and tell you and your viewers that we love everything in the bill,” he said on Fox. “But we think that we got many of our priorities funded.”
The final result is surprising for many Republicans, they campaigned on spending restraints and balanced budgets. This measure will usher in $1 trillion in deficits. So Republican leaders are focusing on military increases that were once core to the party’s brand as guardians of national security.
Because of the divide among so many, and the failure of the omnibus spending, we can look forward to another major battle on these same lines in the Fall.
Credit: AP News