President Donald Trump said he has signed a spending bill funding the federal government for the next six months, reversing a veto threat he made earlier Friday that shocked Washington after his administration had previously said he would approve the legislation.
Trump’s turnabout came after a meeting with Defense Secretary James Mattis, who advocated for the bill’s increases in defense spending and wanted the relative certainty of six months of assured funding.
“My highest duty is to keep America safe. Nothing more important,” Trump said at the White House. “But I say to Congress: I will never sign another bill like this again.”
The spending bill appeared to only be waiting for Trump’s signature when he tweeted Friday morning that he was “considering a VETO” because the bill does not fully fund a wall on the Mexican border or create a solution for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, a program protecting some undocumented immigrants from deportation that Trump chose last year to end.
The veto threat injected chaos into what appeared to be the end of a protracted struggle to settle on a funding plan for the federal government. A month of negotiations between Republicans and Democrats culminated in a deal to raise defense and domestic spending following a bruising fight that triggered a shutdown in January.
Trump called it a “ridiculous situation” before handing over his podium to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to briefly discuss a trade deal with South Korea. Afterward, Trump said he wants the power to issue line-item vetoes on spending bills — a power many presidents have demanded, and that Congress has never granted — and that the Senate should eliminate the ability of a minority to filibuster legislation.
The federal fiscal year began Oct. 1.