Monday 18 December 2017

Donald Trump signs spending bill to keep US government going until September

US president Donald Trump with Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)
US president Donald Trump with Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)
Protesters gather on 5th Avenue near Trump Tower in New York (Craig Ruttle/AP)
Bradley Solomon of New York chants with other protesters near Trump Tower (Craig Ruttle/AP)

President Donald Trump has signed a one trillion US dollar spending bill to fund the government through to September, his first piece of major legislation.

The bill cleared both houses of Congress this week and Mr Trump signed it behind closed doors at his home in New Jersey, well ahead of a deadline of midnight on Friday for some government functions to begin shutting down.

Other battles over government spending lie ahead, including the border wall Mr Trump has vowed to build on the US-Mexico border to deter illegal immigration, as well as a promised military build-up.

The White House and its Republican allies praised 15 billion dollars in additional Pentagon spending obtained by Mr Trump and 1.5 billion dollars in emergency spending for border security.

The signing of the legislation came the day after Mr Trump said Australia has a better health care system than the US.

His comment is attracting attention because Australia offers universal health care, which Republicans oppose.

In his meeting on Thursday with Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull, Mr Trump said the existing US system was failing.

He said: "I shouldn't say this to a great gentleman and my friend from Australia because you have better health care than we do."

He added that Americans will have a "great" system soon, referring to the just-passed House of Representatives health care bill.

Senator Bernie Sanders quickly tweeted that Australia provides free or subsidised health care.

He said: "Thank you Mr Trump for admitting that universal health care is the better way to go. I'll be sure to quote you on the floor of the Senate."

Australia has a government-funded system that provides free or subsidised care for all citizens and permanent residents, which is partially funded by income taxes.

Mr Trump returned to the health care issue on Friday, tweeting that his "Big win in the House" was "very exciting!"

"But when everything comes together with the inclusion of Phase 2, we will have truly great healthcare!," he added.

The tweet was sent from his home on his private golf club in Bedminster.

Mr Trump was likely referring to regulatory and other changes the administration can make to the Obama law.


Press Association

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