President Trump hastily called an early Friday afternoon press conference to announce that, yes, he is signing the “omnibus” spending bill and, NO, he is never signing such a bill again.
The reason he gave was that the military must be generously funded in order to recover from the decimation it suffered under Democratic leadership. It’s reported that Defense Secretary Mattis convinced him to go against his inclination to veto the bill in order to ensure a superior military. Trump said his goal is the creation of the strongest military we have ever had. The only way we could get that in the bill, he said, was to include expensive outlays that the Democrats wanted that are “very bad for our country.” (Well, that much is true!)
Trump said “we have to get rid of the filibuster rule” that stops a simple majority vote in the Senate from approving a spending bill. (That much is also true. We will never, ever, get the spending cuts we need under the current system, and our nation will continue its slide into eventual bankruptcy.) Republicans are on notice to change the rules.
Yes, he wanted a provision for DACA in the bill, noting that Democrats showed their true stripes by not including it. Okay, fine, but it’s the massive discretionary spending insisted on by Democrats that is the truly unacceptable part; that is absolutely out of control.
To prevent this kind of situation from happening again, he’s also calling on Congress to give him a line-item veto on government spending bills. In this age of huge, terrible, “comprehensive” legislation and billions wasted every year on expensive earmarks, this is a tool the President definitely needs. But every President has wanted the line-item veto; can he get it through?
As for increased border security to address illegal immigration and the drug trade, the President said, “The border, we’ve worked very hard on...we funded the ‘initial down payment’ of $1.6 billion for the wall,” which is “not enough, but we’re working on that very quickly.” “Not enough” is the understatement of the week; this paltry level of funding will not satisfy –- indeed, will infuriate –- many people who voted for him primarily on the immigration issue.
Trump said there’s “nobody more disappointed than me” about the size of this bill, but “it’ll start coming down.” He stressed, “We have no choice but to fund our military.” Understood, but doesn’t this imply that military spending is the (pardon) “trump card” that Democrats (and RINOs) can always show to get all the other spending they want? The art of this deal doesn’t seem very artful.
And did he have to thank Congress for “working so hard”? They did not do their job. On second thought, Democrats did do theirs, which was to spend astronomical sums and to set up Trump for political disaster as deliberately as any DOJ conspiracy or special counsel could do.
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