BRANCHBURG – President Donald Trump signed his first piece of major legislation on Friday, a $1 trillion spending bill to keep the government operating through September.
The bill cleared both houses of Congress this week and Trump signed it into law behind closed doors at his home in central New Jersey, well ahead of a midnight Friday deadline for some government operations to begin shutting down.
But other budget battles lie ahead as the White House and Congress hammer out a spending plan for the fiscal year that starts Oct. 1.
Republicans praised $15 billion in additional Pentagon spending obtained by Trump, as well as $1.5 billion in emergency spending for border security, though not for the wall he has vowed to build along the U.S.-Mexico border to deter illegal immigration.
Trump also wants a huge military buildup matched by cuts to popular domestic programs and foreign aid accounts.
Republicans and Democrats who negotiated the measure Trump signed Friday had successfully defended other accounts Trump had targeted for spending cuts, such as foreign aid, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), support for the arts and economic development grants, among others.
The sweeping, 1,665-page bill also increases spending for NASA, medical research, and the FBI and other federal law enforcement agencies.
Trump took to Twitter earlier this week to complain about the bipartisan process that produced the measure but later changed his tone and began highlighting the spending that was added for the military and for border security. He advocated in one tweet for a “good shutdown” in September to fix the “mess” that produced the bill, but then appeared in the White House Rose Garden hours later to boast that the measure amounted to a big win for him.
In other areas, retired union coal miners won a $1.3 billion provision to preserve health benefits for more than 22,000 retirees. House Democrats won funding to give Puerto Rico’s cash-strapped government $295 million to help ease its Medicaid burden.