Trump signs deal to end US government shutdown
A brief U.S. government shutdown ended on Friday after Congress passed and President Donald Trump signed into law a wide-ranging deal that is expected to push budget deficits into the $1 trillion-a-year zone.
The bill was approved by a wide margin in the Senate and it survived a rebellion of 67 conservative Republicans in the House of Representatives thanks to the support of some Democrats. Those conservatives were mainly angry about non-military spending increases.
Trump’s signature brought an end to a partial government shutdown – or closure of federal agencies – that had been triggered in the early hours of Friday as Congress was still debating the budget deal.
It was the second shutdown this year under the Republican-controlled Congress and Trump, who played little role in attempts by party leaders this week to end months of fiscal squabbling.
In a Twitter post that acknowledged the misgivings of fiscal conservatives, the Republican president said after signing the measure, “Without more Republicans in Congress, we were forced to increase spending on things we do not like or want in order to finally, after many years of depletion, take care of our Military” with additional funding.
Trump also wrote that negotiations will “start now!” on an immigration measure that he and Democrats have been battling over for months.
The deal, the fifth temporary government funding measure for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1, replenishes federal coffers until March 23, giving lawmakers more time to write a full-year budget.
It also extends the U.S. government’s borrowing authority until March 2019, sparing Washington politicians difficult votes on debt and deficits until after mid-term congressional elections in November.
The Republican Party was once known for fiscal conservatism, but congressional Republicans and Trump are now quickly expanding the U.S. budget deficit and its $20 trillion national debt. Their sweeping tax overhaul bill approved in December will add an estimated $1.5 trillion to the national debt over 10 years.
Nearly $300 billion in new spending that is included in the bill approved on Friday will mean the annual budget deficit will exceed $1 trillion in 2019, said the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a private fiscal policy watchdog group in Washington.
Friday’s budget deal allows for $165 billion in additional defense spending over two years, which will help Trump deliver on his promise to boost the military.
That won over many Republicans, but some were furious over the $131 billion extra made available for non-military spending, including health and infrastructure.
None of the added spending will be offset by budget savings elsewhere or revenue increases, relying instead on government borrowing. There also is no offset reduction for nearly $90 billion in new disaster aid for U.S. states and territories ravaged by hurricanes or wildfires last year.
The U.S. Office of Personnel Management sent a notice to millions of federal employees Friday morning after Trump signed the measure, telling them to report to work.