Donald Trump signs tax, government spending Bills into law

Trump talks to the media during an event to sign the Tax Cut and Reform Bill at The White House.
Trump talks to the media during an event to sign the Tax Cut and Reform Bill at The White House.PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - US President Donald Trump signed Republicans’ massive US$1.5 trillion (S$2 trillion) tax overhaul into law on Friday (Dec 22), cementing the biggest legislative victory of his first year in office, and also approved a short-term spending Bill that averts a possible government shutdown.

Trump said he wanted to sign the tax Bill before leaving Washington on Friday for his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, rather than stage a more formal ceremony in January, so he could keep his promise to finish work before Christmas.

“I didn’t want you folks to say I wasn’t keeping my promise. I’m keeping my promise,” he told reporters in the White House.

The two pieces of legislation represent Trump’s most significant accomplishment with Congress since taking office in January, as well as a sign of what awaits when he returns from Florida after the Christmas holiday.

The tax package, the largest such overhaul since the 1980s, slashes the corporate rate from 35 per cent to 21 per cent and temporarily reduces the tax burden for most individuals as well.

Trump praised several companies that have announced employee bonuses in the wake of the Bill’s passage, naming AT&T, Boeing, Wells Fargo, Comcast and Sinclair Broadcast Group.

“Corporations are literally going wild over this,” he said.

Democrats had opposed the Bill as a giveaway to the wealthy that would add US$1.5 trillion to the US$20 trillion national debt during the next decade.

The spending Bill extends federal funding through Jan 19, largely at current levels. It does nothing to resolve broader disputes over immigration, health care and military spending.

Republicans also are divided over whether to follow up their sweeping overhaul of the US tax code with a dramatic restructuring of federal benefit programmes.

House Speaker Paul Ryan has said he would like to revamp welfare and health programmes but Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell told National Public Radio on Monday that he was not interested in cutting those programmes without Democratic support.

Trump’s year also closes with significant turnover of many top staffers who had been in the White House since early in his term. On Friday, the White House confirmed Deputy Chief of Staff Rick Dearborn and Jeremy Katz, who worked under White House economic adviser Gary Cohn, were leaving.