US President Donald Trump has signed a massive $1.3 trillion spending bill passed by Congress to avoid a government shutdown.
“I’ve signed this omnibus budget deal. there are a lot of things I’m unhappy about in this bill,” Trump said at a hastily convened press conference on Friday.
“I will never sign another bill like this again,” Trump commented, saying his signature was required to strengthen the US military, which will receive pay increases and increased funding in the package.
Trump tweeted earlier on Friday he considered vetoing the bill, citing a lack of funding for a wall on the US-Mexico border and protections for the more than 800,000 immigrants brought to the country as children.
The immigrants, who were protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) programme – which Trump ended last September – “have been treated extremely badly by Democrats,” Trump said.
With an impending deadline to avoid a government shutdown, Democrats in the US Senate voted to pass the bill in the early hours of Friday, despite earlier promises to seek protections for the immigrants.
“We wanted to include DACA in this bill. The Democrats would not do it,” Trump said.
Paul Quinonez, an undocumented resident of Washington state and a DACA recipient, told Al Jazeera that “Democrats sold out our community by backing down from the demand to include a fix”.
DACA was abandoned by the Democrats. Very unfair to them! Would have been tied to desperately needed Wall.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 23, 2018
Protections for Dreamers – a term used to describe DACA recipients based on never-passed legislation that would have provided permanent protections – have been at the forefront of Democrats’ anti-Trump rhetoric.
The Trump administration has been battling with Democrats over these protections since last year. Democrats have repeatedly threatened government shutdowns over protections, only to relent and vote for further spending bills.
The last was a stopgap funding bill passed in February. Since then, bipartisan proposals that would have provided permanent protections for Dreamers have been shot down by Trump.
Quinonez said he did not believe Trump’s concern over immigrants: “If Trump truly cared about a solution, he would push for a permanent solution and wouldn’t have killed all bipartisan proposals.”
After the US Senate passed the spending bill, Charles Schumer, the head Democrat in the Senate who has repeatedly said protections for DACA recipients is a top priority, heralded portions of it as victories, such as increased funding for childcare subsidies and low-income housing tax credits.
“This spending agreement brings the era of austerity to an unceremonious end and represents one of the most significant investments in the middle class in recent history,” Schumer told reporters. “It’s really a turning around.”
Democrats are looking for victories in November midterm elections that could allow them to take control of Congress.
Currently, Republicans control every law-making branch of the US Federal government. However, Democrats have won special elections in traditionally conservative parts of the country that have bolstered their hopes for taking back control of the government.
Still, divides between centrist and progressive arms of the party and a lingering divide of the 2016 primaries that saw Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton defeat socialist challenger Bernie Sanders after a hard-fought campaign could hinder their chances.
Progressives within the party say centrist manoeuvres like passing funding bills without protections for Dreamers will stop a “Blue Wave” – a large number of victories for Democrats – in the midterms.
Samuel Ronan, a progressive Democratic candidate for Congress from Ohio, told Al Jazeera that the Democrats’ momentum will “crash against a red wall” during midterms because people will be disappointed “with the … ineptitude of the failed Democratic party”.
Even if Trump and Democrats agree to short-term DACA protections, funding for the wall is no-go for immigrant advocates, Quinonez, the Dreamer, said.
“We won’t accept a temporary patch that harms all other immigrants,” he added.