Trump Signs $1.3 Trillion Omnibus Bill He Threatened to Veto Hours Earlier

Melanie Arter | March 23, 2018 | 4:36pm EDT
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( - After threatening to veto it, President Donald Trump on Friday signed the $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill, which he had criticized for not addressing DACA or fully funding the border wall.

While criticizing the bill for being the second largest ever spending bill second only to that signed by former President Barack Obama, Trump also praised it for providing a much-needed spending increase for the military, whose readiness was undermined by “deep defense cuts” during the Obama administration.

He said the last administration hallowed out the military’s readiness “and put America at really grave risk.”

“My highest duty is to keep America safe. Nothing more important. The omnibus bill reverses this dangerous defense. As crazy as it's been, as difficult as it's been, as much opposition to the military as we've had from the Democrats -- and it has been tremendous,” the president said.

He said the military is for everyone - Republicans and Democrats alike - but Democrats have been opposed to fully funding the military.

“It's for everybody, but we have tremendous opposition to creating, really, what will be ... by far, the strongest military that we've ever had. We've had that from the Democrats,” Trump said.

“We're looking to do funding for our final fight in certain areas. As you know, we've gotten just about a hundred percent of our land back from ISIS. We have troop increases necessary to accomplish what we have to do,” the president said.

“And we have, very importantly, a pay increase for our troops, and this will be, actually, the largest pay increase for our incredible people in over a decade. It increases total defense spending by more than $60 billion from last year and funds the addition of critically needed ships, planes, helicopters, tanks, and submarines. We have submarines being built, the likes of which there's nothing anywhere in the world like the submarines we build,” he said.

“Our military equipment is the best equipment in the world, and one of the things you saw two days ago with Saudi Arabia and with other countries -- Saudi Arabia, as an example, is buying hundreds of billions of dollars' worth of our equipment, and we're getting very fast approvals on that,” Trump said.

The president explained that the reason why he changed his mind about vetoing the bill was “A matter of national security.”

“Therefore, as a matter of national security, I've signed this omnibus budget bill. There are a lot of things that I'm unhappy about in this bill. There are a lot of things that we shouldn't have had in this bill, but we were, in a sense, forced -- if we want to build our military -- we were forced to have. There are some things that we should have in the bill,” Trump said.

He pledged never to sign another bill like it in the future.

“But I say to Congress: I will never sign another bill like this again. I'm not going to do it again. Nobody read it. It's only hours old. Some people don't even know what is in -- $1.3 trillion -- it's the second largest ever. President Obama signed one that was actually larger, which I'm sure he wasn't too happy with either,” Trump said.

“But, in this case, it became so big because we need to take care of our military, and because the Democrats, who don't believe in that, added things that they wanted in order to get their votes. We have to get rid of the filibuster rule. We have to get rid of the filibuster rule, and go to 51 votes in the Senate, if we're going to have really sustained, continued success,” he said.

The president voiced his opposition to the bill not providing protections for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), something he said Democrats would not do.

“DACA recipients have been treated extremely badly by the Democrats. We wanted to include DACA. We wanted to have them in this bill -- 800,000 people, and actually, it could even be more, and we wanted to include DACA in this bill. The Democrats would not do it. They would not do it,” Trump said.

In addition to calling for doing away with the filibuster, Trump also asked Congress to provide him with a line-item veto for all spending bills in the future.

“To prevent the omnibus situation from ever happening again, I'm calling on Congress to give me a line-item veto for all government spending bills, and the Senate must end. They must end the filibuster rule and get down to work. We have to get a lot of great legislation approved, and without the filibuster rule, it will happen just like magic,” he said.

“I want to address the situation on border security, which I call national defense. I call it stopping drugs from pouring across our border, and I call it illegal immigration. It's all of those things, but national defense is a very important two words, because by having a strong border system, including a wall, we are in a position, militarily, that is very advantageous,” Trump added.

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