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23 Mar, 2018 17:31

Govt shutdown avoided as Trump withdraws threat & signs spending bill

Govt shutdown avoided as Trump withdraws threat & signs spending bill

A US government shutdown has been avoided as President Donald Trump signed the $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill. Trump had earlier threatened to veto the legislation over immigration issues.

Trump tweeted Friday morning that he was considering blocking the bill because of a lack of funding for the Mexican border wall and because 800,000 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) immigrants aren’t even mentioned in the legislation.

“DACA was abandoned by the Democrats. Very unfair to them! Would have been tied to desperately needed Wall,” the president added. He eventually signed the bill in a White House press conference at 1pm local time on Friday.

Speaking at the press conference, Trump said recent budget cuts have put America at risk and it was a matter of national security to sign the bill. Describing the rushed manner in which the legislation was passed as “ridiculous,” he said he will “never” sign a bill like this again.

The 2,300-page bill was comfortably passed by the House of Representatives on Thursday before passing the Senate in a whirlwind of activity that night. Senators stared down their self-imposed midnight deadline before eventually passing the legislation.

Trump’s threat to veto the legislation came less than a day before the government was due to run out of funds on Saturday. Republicans were keen to avoid a third government shutdown this year ahead of November’s mid-term elections.

The spending package includes a record increase in military funding and is set to bankroll the government until September. Defense spending levels for the fiscal year, which ends on 30 September, were set at $700 billion. That represents an increase of $61 billion over last year's cap.

The bill was heavily criticized by fiscal conservatives as it is set to create a budget deficit of $800 billion for 2018.

Trump used much of Friday’s press conference to list what the military budget will be spent on. “There will be nobody who says that our military will be depleted as they have said for a long period of time,” he said, adding that they are spending a lot of money upgrading the nuclear arsenal and the navy.

"We're spending a lot on missile defense,” he added. “Everybody knows what missile defense is, right? And missile defense is very important.”

When asked about his threat to veto the legislation the president said he only allowed the bill to pass because of the increase in military spending. “I was thinking about doing the veto but because of the incredible gains that we’ve been able to make for the military that overrode any of our thinking.”

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