Trump says he is “considering” veto of $1.3 trillion budget

By LISA MASCARO, ALAN FRAM and CATHERINE LUCEY, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump cast doubt on whether he would back a $1.3 trillion spending bill needed to avert a government shutdown Friday, saying he was “considering” a veto over concerns about young “Dreamer” immigrants and border wall money.

Hours before funding for the government expires and with Congress already on recess, Trump said on Twitter that he was weighing a veto “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.”

Earlier Friday morning, the Senate gave final approval of the bill before funding for the government expires at midnight. With Congress already out of town, if Trump does not sign the government would likely shut down.

Several advisers inside and outside the White House characterized the message as blowing off steam and said Trump was still likely to sign. The advisers sought anonymity to discuss private conversations.

Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., chairman of the freedom caucus, said in a tweet that the group would “fully support” a veto, adding that Congress should pass a short-term budget resolution while Trump and congressional leaders “negotiate a better deal for the forgotten men and women of America.”

The Senate passage of the bill averted a third federal shutdown this year, an outcome both parties wanted to avoid. But the budget caps-busting deal drew serious conservative opposition. It also failed to resolve the stalemate over shielding young Dreamer immigrants from deportation after Trump’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

While Trump has repeatedly criticized Democrats over DACA, he canceled the program last fall, ending the issuance of new DACA permits. A judge has forced the administration to continue issuing renewals.

The House easily approved the spending package Thursday, 256-167, a bipartisan tally that underscored the popularity of the compromise, which funds the government through September. It beefs up military and domestic programs, delivering federal funds to every corner of the country.

But action stalled in the Senate, as conservatives ran the clock in protest. Once the opponents relented, the Senate began voting, clearing the package by a 65-32 vote.

“Shame, shame. A pox on both Houses – and parties,” tweeted Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., who spent the afternoon tweeting details found in the 2,200-page bill that was released the night before. “No one has read it. Congress is broken.”

White House legislative director Marc Short framed it as a compromise. “I can’t sit here and tell you and your viewers that we love everything in the bill,” he said on Fox. “But we think that we got many of our priorities funded.”

The spending package includes $1.6 billion for Trump’s long-promised border wall with Mexico. The money was far less than the $25 billion Trump had made a last-ditch effort to secure.
But the overall result has been unimaginable to many Republicans after campaigning on spending restraints and balanced budgets. Along with the recent GOP tax cuts law, the bill that stood a foot tall at some lawmakers’ desks ushers in the return of $1 trillion deficits.

Trying to smooth over differences, Republican leaders focused on military increases that were once core to the party’s brand as guardians of national security.

Missing from the package was a renewal of federal insurance subsidies to curb premium costs on the Affordable Care Act exchanges. Trump ended some of those payments as part of his effort to scuttle Obama’s health care law, but Republicans have joined Democrats in trying to revive them.

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Associated Press writers Matthew Daly, Jill Colvin, Zeke Miller and Jonathan Lemire contributed to this report.