President Donald J. Trump signed the $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill Friday afternoon, narrowly avoiding the looming government shutdown.
“As a matter of national security, I have signed this omnibus budget bill,” Trump said to reporters in an impromptu press availability in the Diplomatic Room.
Earlier the same day, Trump threatened to veto the legislation over lack of sufficient spending for a wall along the Southern border, a previous non-negotiable for the president. Trump also lambasted Democrats for not addressing a program that protects hundreds of thousands of undocumented children, otherwise known as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
The president cited military funding as the prime reason he changed his tune.
“There are a lot of things that I’m unhappy about this bill,” Trump said. “There are a lot of things that we shouldn’t have had in this bill, but were in a sense forced if we want to build our military.”
Trump made ambitious asks to Congress — the ability to line-item veto any upcoming government spending and the conclusion of the filibuster rule — in order to “avoid” having to sign a bill such as this ever again.
Still, senior White House officials said that the administration will accept the shortcomings of the bill regardless of their disappointment.
“Is it perfect? No. Is it exactly what we asked for in the budget? No,” said Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney during a briefing Thursday afternoon. “So all things considered, when we look at the bill we have to weigh what we asked for and what we had to give away to get it.”
Legislative Director Marc Short piggybacked off of Mulvaney, suggesting that the White House was willing to take a hit on DACA and border wall provisions in order to keep the government afloat.
However, Trump doubled-down on his commitment to expanding funding for border security, telling reporters that he will work to secure as much money as possible for the border wall, where construction will begin as soon as next Monday. He plans to funnel the existing appropriation of $1.6 billion to fixing existing walls and fences.
The massive omnibus spending bill currently funds the government through September 30 and includes $380 million for election security grants, over $4 billion to opioid spending, and $2.3 billion for school safety. It’ll also fund the infamous Gateway project, an ambitious infrastructure project that includes building a tunnel under the Hudson River to connect New Jersey and New York which has been contested by the president in recent weeks.
This is likely the last major piece of legislation Congress will pass before the hotly anticipated 2018 midterm elections — and if the president has his way, he will spike any similar bill that comes out during the remainder of his term.
“I say to Congress, I will never sign another bill like this again,” Trump added. “I’m not going to do it again.”