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Despite threatening a veto, Trump signs $1.3T spending bill

President Donald Trump speaks at the White House

President Donald Trump speaks at the White House complex in Washington on Thursday. Credit: AP / Manuel Balce Ceneta

WASHINGTON — Despite tweeting a veto threat, President Donald Trump on Friday signed into law the $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill needed to avert a shutdown and to keep the government funded through the end of the fiscal year.

Trump said he signed it because of its boost to military spending and complained about the legislative process and about Democrats’ demands for funding their domestic priorities.

“As a matter of national security I’ve signed this omnibus budget bill,” Trump said at the signing ceremony, where he vented his frustration at lawmakers.

“But I say to Congress, I will never sign another bill like this again,” he said, pointing to the three-foot-high bill to his side. “Nobody read it, it’s only hours old.”

Trump touted the bill’s $654.6 billion in total discretionary funding for defense, ticking off the plans for building nuclear submarines as well as F-35 and tanker aircraft, fighter jets, Black Hawk helicopters, nuclear submarines and tanks.

“While we’re disappointed in the $1.3 trillion,” Trump said of the 22,232-page bill, “we had no choice but to fund the military.”

As he left, he was asked about his Friday morning tweet threatening to reject the bill.

“I looked very seriously at the veto,” Trump said. “But because of the incredible gains that we’ve been able to make for the military, that overrode any of our thinking.”

Had Trump vetoed the bill, Congress would have had to scramble to satisfy his demands, a task it would be hard-pressed to accomplish in time to avoid a shutdown.

“I am considering a VETO of the Omnibus Spending Bill 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,” Trump tweeted.

That tweet caught Washington by surprise because House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said Trump backed the legislation after Ryan made a trip to the White House Thursday to talk to the president. Afterward, the White House also issued a statement that indicated the president’s support.

After the signing, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) tweeted, “Another impulsive, distracting Trump threat that he’s dramatically abandoning — this one to veto the #Omnibus budget deal. More chaos and confusion, not leadership.”

Trump had requested $25 billion for the border wall in the bill in return for protections for the 690,000 participants in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program for people brought to the United States illegally as children.

But Democrats agreed only to $1.6 billion, none of it for a new wall, and held off on a solution for those DACA recipients. Trump ordered DACA to end March 5, but federal courts have stopped his order pending further arguments in lawsuits filed against it.

At the signing ceremony, Trump blamed Democrats for failing to protect the DACA recipients, noting the resolution to their legal status is tied to the border wall he is demanding.

“Not happy with $1.6 billion, but it does start the wall and we will make that $1.6 billion go very, very far,” Trump said.

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), the top Democrat on the Appropriations Committee, responded with a tweet.

“Mr. President, YOU terminated protections for #DACA recipients, YOU cynically held them hostage for your misbegotten wall, and YOU have undercut every bipartisan attempt to fix the mess you created,” Leahy said in his post. “YOU can fix this.”

Trump and first lady Melania Trump planned to leave for his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida on Friday afternoon.

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