- The Washington Times - Friday, December 20, 2019

President Trump signed into law Friday night a $1.4 trillion spending package that avoids a government shutdown, funds all federal agencies through September, provides up to 12 weeks of paid family leave for most federal employees and spends $1.375 billion on his border wall.

Mr. Trump signed the two spending bills about two hours before midnight aboard Air Force One on a flight to Florida, where he plans to spend the holidays at his Mar-a-Lago resort. Government operations would have begun to shut down after midnight.

“Taken together, the government funding bills guarantee that critical priorities — investing in the military, ensuring Americans are more prosperous and healthy, delivering border security, engaging on criminal justice reform, and defending life – will be met in the upcoming year,” Mr. Trump said in a statement.

The president’s action and the agreement on spending in Congress avoids a repeat of the partial government shutdown of last December in a fight over border-wall funding. The deal also came despite heightened rancor in Washington over House Democrats’ impeachment of Mr. Trump on Wednesday.

Among his priorities, Mr. Trump said the package “preserves my authorities to build the wall on our southern border, and it prevents attempts to slash and cap ICE detention beds, as well as efforts to defund and block my Administration’s successful strategies and use of available law enforcement tools, which have produced dramatic reductions in illegal border-crossings.”

He also cited as a victory that the spending measures “continue to defend America’s most vulnerable, the unborn.”

SEE ALSO: Donald Trump signs $738 billion defense bill creating new Space Force

“The legislation preserves all pro-life protections like the Hyde Amendment; rejects Senator Jeanne Shaheen’s anti-life amendment that could have increased funding for pro-abortion organizations; and rejects all anti-life riders in the partisan versions of these bills that originally passed the House, including one that would have undermined my administration’s pro-life Title X rule,” he said.

In an accompanying statement, the president took exception to several provisions in the spending bills. For example, Mr. Trump referred to a section of the law restricting transfers of detainees held at U.S. Naval Station at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba and declared, “I fully intend to keep that detention facility open and to use it, as necessary or appropriate, for detention operations.”

The package includes pay raises of 3.1 percent for U.S. military service members and for most federal workers. In letters released to those two groups, the president said he’s proud of their work and their service for the nation.

“This pay raise reflects the excellent work of our federal workforce and complements another unprecedented benefit that I also just signed into law — paid parental leave,” Mr. Trump told federal workers. “I am proud to report after that, after decades of empty promises and inaction, the legislation I have signed into law provides 12 weeks of paid parental leave for federal employees. This ensures parents are not forced to choose between their jobs and spending precious time with their children.”

He added, “Strong and thriving families are the true source of America’s success and the key to America’s future. As the chief executive of the country’s largest workforce, I am proud to say that our government is leading by example in changing the culture of how we support working families.”

To service members, the president wrote, “Your selfless service, noble sacrifice and unfailing allegiance to duty and country is what keeps America safe, strong, proud and free.”

The measures also raise the age for purchasing tobacco from 18 to 21 and repeals three taxes created under Obamacare. The spending adds a projected $426 billion in deficits over the next decade.

The package provides $1.375 billion for the border wall, the same as in fiscal 2019 and much less than the $8.6 billion the president had sought.

There are also extensions of various tax breaks included in the measures.

“Christmas came early in Washington for lobbyists, for lobbyists who are bankrupting the country,” Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas Republican, said in a video about the spending bills.

• Dave Boyer can be reached at dboyer@washingtontimes.com.

Copyright © 2023 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide