Trump threatens to veto, then signs budget deal | News | DW | 23.03.2018
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Trump threatens to veto, then signs budget deal

Lawmakers in Washington approved the deal, which includes President Donald Trump's border wall and increased military spending. Proposed cuts to environmental programs were rejected.

The US Congress approved a $1.3 trillion (€1.05 trillion) budget on Friday which funds the government through September, avoiding another government shutdown. The spending bill was a bipartisan effort to avoid another quick stopgap measure, of which there have already been five in this fiscal year alone.

US President Donald Trump had threatened to veto the bill but relented at the end "as a matter of national security."

"There are a lot of things I'm unhappy about in this bill. There are a lot of things we shouldn't have had in this bill but we were, in a sense, forced (to have) if we want to build our military," he said after signing it.

"My highest duty is to keep America safe."

Military spending

The new budget increases funding for domestic programs and the military, including more money for new Navy ships, anti-opioid programs, the FBI and NASA. The deal also includes $1.57 billion for Trump's border wall and other related security measures and $380 million to improve election security.

"This bill starts construction on the wall," Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan told reporters. 

Although the president had wanted to cut funds to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the bill keeps the agency's budget the same at $8 billion. Lawmakers also rejected calls from Trump to cut spending for clean-up programs in the Great Lakes and the Chesapeake Bay.

Despite the Democrats pushing for protection from deportation for the "Dreamers" who came to the US illegally as children, that did not make it in to the final deal. The Democrats were however able to secure money for building better roads.

The bill also prompts state governments and federal agencies to send the necessary records for the national gun-purchasing background check system. Although they were already obliged to do so, the process has remained slow and incomplete.

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'Dreamers should not be held hostage'

'A pox on both your houses'

The budget passed the House of Representatives by a margin of 256-167, but it nearly stalled in the Senate when an Idaho lawmaker tried to stop the entire process over the renaming of a forest in his home state.

Senator James Risch, a Republican, was unhappy that the forest was to be renamed after Cecil Andrus, a four-term Democratic governor.

Finally, Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee, another Republican, told Risch he was being "ridiculous."

Not every lawmaker was pleased with the final outcome. Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky tweeted "a pox on both your houses," and criticized his colleagues for not giving themselves time to read the 2,200 page bill.

es/rt (AP, AFP)

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