Thursday 13 December 2018

President averts shutdown - after latest Twitter tirade

President Donald Trump stands next to Congress’ $1.3 trillion spending bill during a ceremony in the White House, Photo: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters
President Donald Trump stands next to Congress’ $1.3 trillion spending bill during a ceremony in the White House, Photo: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

US President Donald Trump signed a $1.3tn (€1tn) spending measure last night, averting a midnight government shutdown just hours after declaring he was considering a veto.

Mr Trump said he was "very disappointed" in the package, in part because it did not fully fund his plans for a border wall with Mexico and did not address some 700,000 "Dreamer" immigrants who are now protected from deportation under a programme that he has moved to eliminate.

But Mr Trump praised the increases the bill provides for military spending and said he had "no choice but to fund our military".

"My highest duty is to keep America safe," he said.

The bill signing came a few hours after Mr Trump created last-minute drama by saying in a tweet that he was "considering" a veto.

With Congress already on recess, and a government shutdown looming, he said that young immigrants now protected in the US under Barack 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 Defence, is not fully funded."

Mr Trump's veto threat was at odds with top members of his administration and House Speaker Paul Ryan, who had said that he was supportive of the measure. The White House also issued a formal statement of administration policy indicating Mr Trump would sign the bill. Several advisers inside and outside the White House said earlier yesterday that they suspected the tweet was just Mr Trump blowing off steam.

Finally, in made-for-TV scheduling, Mr Trump took to Twitter again to announce he'd be holding a news conference to talk about the bill. The drama was short-lived: An aide told reporters the signing was on. And telegraphing the outcome, an internal television feed advertised its next programme: "President Trump Participates in a Bill Signing."

Asked why he'd made the threat, Mr Trump said he'd "looked very seriously at the veto," but "because of the incredible gains that we've been able to make for the military that overrode any of our thinking."

Mr Trump also warned Congress: "I will never sign another bill like this again." The will-he, won't he episode came hours after the Senate earlier passed the $1.3tn spending package aimed at keeping the government open past midnight.

Mr Trump has been increasingly frustrated with media coverage of the bill, spurred on by conservative Republican lawmakers and other critics who had spent recent days calling the president, inciting him, and making their cases loudly on cable news shows Trump is known to watch.

Irish Independent

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