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President Donald Trump capped another chaotic week in Washington by deriding and then ultimately signing a $1.3 trillion spending bill to keep the government funded through September.
On Friday, Trump cast doubt about the bill’s fate by tweeting that he was considering a veto of the bill that has been regarded as a compromise bill by many Democrats and Republicans in Congress. Had Trump rejected it, he could have plunged the government into another government shutdown.
But in the end, he signed the bill while also saying that no one was more disappointed about it than him. He added that passing the bill was a “matter of national security” and his “highest duty is to keep America safe.” The spending measure averts a government shutdown that would have begun at midnight if a funding plan had not been in place.
“There are a lot of things that I’m unhappy about in this bill,” Trump said Friday while announcing that he had signed it. “There are a lot of things that we shouldn’t have had in this bill. But we were in a sense forced if we want to build our military, we were forced to have.”
He also both thanked Congress for working “so hard” on the 2,232 page long bill and said this would be the last time he would sign such a bill. Lawmakers in both the House and Senate scrambled this week to push the bill through Congress to meet Friday’s funding deadline.
“I say to Congress: I will never sign another bill like this again,” Trump said. “I’m not going to do it again. Nobody read it. It’s only hours old. Some people don’t even know what is in— $1.3 trillion. It’s the second largest ever.”
Staunch conservatives including the Freedom Caucus in Congress have been critical of such short-term spending bills and have said the government must be more concerned about lowering the deficit. But Trump has not been as focused on keeping the deficit down during his presidency. Instead, he complained that he did not get enough money to fund building a wall on the southern border with Mexico.
READ MORE: 15 important measures buried in the 2,000-page omnibus bill
Kirstjen Nielsen, secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, called the $1.6 billion allocation for the border in the spending bill a “down payment” Friday. Mr. Trump vowed to get more money for the wall and said Democrats had failed by not finding a permanent solution to deal with the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program for young undocumented immigrants.
“DACA recipients have been treated extremely badly by the Democrats,” said Trump, who ended the program last year. “We wanted to include DACA. We wanted to have them in this bill.”
He also repeated his request that congressional Republicans change Senate rules to allow legislation to be passed by 51 instead of 60 senators. Yet, leaders on both sides of the aisle expressed some satisfaction with the bill.
Mr. Trump is also still dealing with staff changes that have caused some to question the stability of the White House. Two high-profile departures at the White House on Thursday added to the growing list of administration shakeups in recent months. Trump tweeted Thursday night that national security adviser H.R. McMaster was being replaced with John Bolton, a former U.N. ambassador. Earlier in the day, John Dowd, the president’s lead lawyer for special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe, also said he was resigning.
Yamiche Alcindor is the White House correspondent for the PBS NewsHour; the moderator of Washington Week, the weekly public affairs show on PBS; and a political contributor for NBC News and MSNBC. She often tells stories about the intersection of race and politics as well as fatal police encounters. She is currently covering the administration of President Joe Biden and the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
Joshua Barajas is the arts editor for the NewsHour. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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