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Trump signs $1.3T funding bill, calls for line-item veto and end of filibuster

By
Susan McFarland and Danielle Haynes
President Donald Trump speaks after signing the omnibus spending bill at the White House in Washington, D.C., on Friday. Photo by Alex Edelman/UPII
President Donald Trump speaks after signing the omnibus spending bill at the White House in Washington, D.C., on Friday. Photo by Alex Edelman/UPII | License Photo

March 23 (UPI) -- President Donald Trump signed a $1.3 trillion spending bill Friday, hours after he threatened to veto the package because it doesn't address protections for certain immigrants in the United States.

Blaming Democrats, the president said the bill does not provide protection for recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

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"We wanted to include DACA in this bill," he said at the signing ceremony. "The Democrats would not do it."

Trump said there were many things in the bill he was "unhappy" about, but felt forced to sign it if he wanted to build up military spending. He called on Congress to get rid of the filibuster rule so the Senate could pass a budget with a simple majority. He also asked for the ability to have a line-item veto.

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On Thursday, the White House indicated Trump would sign the bill, but early Friday he tweeted he was reconsidering.

"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 [the omnibus] Bill) and the BORDER WALL, which is desperately needed for our National Defense, is not fully funded," he wrote.

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Democrats said they rejected the bill for the same reason -- because it includes $1.6 billion in border security, but nothing for DACA.

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Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., said anyone who votes for the bill is voting for the deportation of DACA recipients, also known as Dreamers, and other immigrants.

"You will be voting to take money from law-abiding taxpayers -- some of whom are immigrants -- and give that money to privately run prisons that will make a profit off of each and every human being our government hands over to them for detention and then deportation," Gutierrez said.

Trump had ordered the end of the Obama-era DACA program and gave Congress a March 5 deadline to fix it or lose it. Federal courts, though, blocked the president's order and rendered the deadline moot.

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The Senate passed the omnibus bill by a 65-32 vote after midnight Thursday. It was approved by the House earlier, 256-167.

The 2,200-page spending bill contains increases for domestic and military spending, something Trump and congressional Republicans have supported.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said, "the House just voted to rebuild our military, secure our borders, and give our service members their largest pay raise in 8 years."

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Along with money to boost the military, the package includes $2.8 billion to fight the opioid epidemic and pay for more than $21 billion in infrastructure projects. The bill also includes about $700 million for election security, giving more money to the FBI to better conduct counter-intelligence to fight Russian cyberattacks.

Senate Democratic leader Charles Schumer, of New York, said, "every bill takes compromise, and there was plenty here, but at the end of the day, we Democrats feel very good because so many of our priorities for the middle class were included."

"From opioid funding to rural broadband, and from student loans to child care, this bill puts workers and families first," he added.

Policy changes in the package include an incentive for states to enter more records into the country's gun background check system and another policy that would halt aide to the Palestinian Authority until Palestinians cease making payments to families of terrorists.

But Trump criticized the omnibus for its rushed process and bloated spending.

"It's only hours old," he said, pointing to a stack of papers that were purportedly a copy of the bill. "Nobody read it.

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Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., tweeted throughout the evening and at one point called it a night: "I shared 600 pages tonight. I'm done tweeting them for the evening. If they insist on voting, I will vote no because it spends to much and there's just too little time to read the bill and let everyone know what's actually in it."

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