Trump poised to sign massive govt spending bill, says White House

US Congress must still pass the legislation to avert a government shutdown when funds run out on Saturday.

Trump spending bill
United States President Donald Trump's signature would avert a partial shutdown of the federal government when funds run out on Saturday and avoid a messy, year-end budget battle with US lawmakers [File: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters]

United States President Donald Trump supports massive US government spending plans hammered out by the US Congress this week and plans to sign the $1.4 trillion budget bill into law, White House adviser Kellyanne Conway said on Tuesday.

“He’s very happy with what he’s learned the final contents are expected to be in the spending bill, and he’s pleased to sign it,” Conway told reporters at the White House.

The Republican president’s signature would avert a partial shutdown of the federal government when funds run out on Saturday and avoid a messy, year-end budget battle with US lawmakers that would interrupt government services.

But it would continue Washington’s cycle of last-minute massive omnibus spending bills that are only agreed upon when critical deadlines loom instead of appropriating funds ahead of time on a regular schedule.

Congress must still pass the legislation, which was put together during weeks of negotiations between leading legislators and the Trump administration and which would fund government programmes through September 30, 2020.

Under the bill, which was unveiled on Monday, Congress would raise the US tobacco purchasing age to 21 and would permanently repeal several of the taxes affiliated with the 2010 Affordable Care Act (ACA).

The legislation, worked out during weeks of negotiations between leading lawmakers and the Trump administration, denies Trump the full $5bn he requested to help build his signature wall along the US-Mexico border, keeping funding static at $1.37bn for border barriers.

Most Democrats and some Republicans support a mix of improved physical barriers at the border, along with a combination of high-tech surveillance equipment and patrols by all-terrain vehicles and even horses.

Legislators have mostly rejected Trump’s calls for at least $24bn over the long run to build his much-touted wall, which he originally said Mexico would finance. Mexico rejected that idea. The wall’s price tag could escalate as the federal government is forced to acquire private lands for construction.

The crackdown on youth smoking, by changing the minimum age for cigarette and other tobacco purchases to 21 from the current 18, would give the US Food and Drug Administration six months to develop regulations. The agency would then have three years to work with states on implementing the change.

The largest expenditures in the bill are for the Department of Defense, which would get a total of $738bn for this year, $22bn more than last year. The bill does not include “mandatory” programmes, such as Social Security and Medicare, which are funded separately.

The legislation also includes $425m in additional federal grants to help local governments prepare for the November 2020 presidential and congressional elections.

Some of the money would be used to harden infrastructure against cyberattacks following election meddling by Russia in 2016.

Negotiators settled on $7.6bn for conducting next year’s census, which is done once every 10 years. That would be $1.4bn more than Trump proposed.

The bill also allocates $25m for federal gun violence research, following a decades-long suspension of such funding.

The legislation would repeal several taxes originally created to help fund the 2010 ACA, popularly known as Obamacare, that had been delayed or were only intermittently in effect.

Source: Reuters