Trump Defends Spending Bill As ‘Down Payment’ On Border Wall

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Will Racke Immigration and Foreign Policy Reporter
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President Donald Trump defended Sunday his signing of the omnibus spending bill despite a last-minute veto threat, saying the $1.3 trillion package was needed to rebuild the military and secure the southwest border.

Tweeting from his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, Trump said the funding package makes the military “rich” and allows construction on his proposed border wall to begin.

Trump went on to address critics who accused him of signing a spending package that shortchanged his immigration and border security agenda. The $1.6 billion allotted for replacing existing barriers and adding some new fencing is “just a down payment,” he said.

Trump reluctantly signed the omnibus package on Friday, hours after suggesting he would veto the bill over misgivings about lack of funding for the border wall. The president was hit with criticism from conservatives and immigration hawks, who said he caved to Democrats by signing a bill packed with liberal priorities.

At the White House, Trump was “very disappointed” in the package but had “no choice” to sign it because of its generous defense appropriations, he said. He slammed lawmakers for pushing through the 2,200-page bill at the last minute and promised he would “never sign another bill like this again.”

The bill raises defense spending by around $80 billion but otherwise does not advance many of Trump’s agenda items, particularly on immigration enforcement. The funding set aside for border barriers does not include construction of wall segments in the style of the prototypes being tested in California.

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