Trump threatens to veto spending Bill just passed

US President unhappy that Daca not under $1.7 trillion measure passed by Senate

WASHINGTON • The US Senate narrowly averted a government shutdown by passing a US$1.3 trillion (S$1.7 trillion) spending Bill early yesterday, but President Donald Trump made a surprising threat to veto the Bill, raising the spectre of a possible shutdown.

The 65-32 vote came after Republican conservatives objected to the higher spending and Republican Rand Paul of Kentucky held open the possibility that he would delay the vote past yesterday's midnight deadline that would have triggered a cloture.

The House approved the Bill on Thursday, and White House budget director Mick Mulvaney told reporters that President Trump would sign the measure.

But in a tweet yesterday morning, Mr Trump said he was displeased about immigration issues in the Bill. Lawmakers in both the Senate and House of Representatives had left Washington after passing the measure.

"I am considering a VETO of the Omnibus Spending Bill based on the fact that the 800,000 plus DACA recipients have been totally abandoned by the Democrats (not even mentioned in Bill) and the BORDER WALL, which is desperately needed for our National Defense, is not fully funded," Mr Trump wrote.

Daca refers to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals programme created in 2012 under former President Barack Obama that Mr Trump has sought to rescind.

Those who signed up for Daca are shielded from deportation and given work permits.

'CARELESS'

No thought whatsoever to adding over a trillion dollars in debt.

MR JOHN KENNEDY, a Louisiana Republican, on the spending measure.

The final vote capped a week of all-night bargaining sessions and repeated delays before the measure was introduced on Wednesday night.

The Bill, funding the government through September, attracted bipartisan support while conservatives complained about growing budget deficits and a lack of time to review the 2,232-page measure. Republicans praised a US$80 billion increase in military spending while Democrats highlighted an additional US$63 billion in domestic spending.

But there was a brief drama that threatened to keep the chamber from voting when Senator James Risch, an Idaho Republican, objected that one of the provisions in the piece of legislation renamed a wilderness preserve in his state for his political rival Cecil Andrus, a Democratic governor and secretary of the Interior under president Jimmy Carter.

Senator John Kennedy, a Louisiana Republican who flirted with the prospect of forcing a government shutdown by delaying a vote, said the price tag was too high. "No thought whatsoever to adding over a trillion dollars in debt," he said.

The spending measure includes US$1.6 billion for border security, including money for fencing and levees, though that is only a fraction of the US$25 billion that Mr Trump wanted to build a wall between the US and Mexico to make good on his campaign promise to keep out migrants.

Other provisions in the Bill include the creation of incentives to bolster reporting by federal agencies to the database for gun-buyer background checks in response to recent mass shootings.

 
 

The Bill also permits the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention to research the causes of gun violence, after more than 20 years of restrictions that prevented the agency from doing so.

Also included is US$75 million this year to train teachers and school officials to respond to attacks, pay for metal detectors, and create anonymous systems for reporting possible threats. Between 2019 and 2028, US$100 million a year would be provided.

The Bill would also contain funding to combat Russian interference in this year's elections, and it would also provide more than US$600 million to build a new rural broadband network

With members of Congress focused on campaigning for the November elections, the spending Bill is likely to be the last major piece of legislation until then.

BLOOMBERG, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 24, 2018, with the headline 'Trump threatens to veto spending Bill just passed'. Print Edition | Subscribe