Trump Signs FY18 Omnibus Bill into Law
After the House passed the $1.3 trillion omnibus appropriations package last Thursday, the bill slid through the senate early Friday morning after a long night with a 65-32 passing vote. Senators Burr (R-NC), McCain (R-AZ), and Toomey (R-PA) were absent and did not vote. Majority Leader McConnell (R-KY) wrangled the full Senate to agree to expedite consideration of the bill and pass it after an interjection from Senator Corker (R-TN) that voting at midnight “is ridiculous. It is juvenile. This is a juvenile process that we go through every time we do one of these,” and additional objections from Senator Paul (R-KY), and a surprise kerfuffle from Senator Risch (R-ID).
Senator Paul objected to the spending bill on the grounds of over spending and unnecessary debt. He tweeted all through the evening about the downsides of the bill, but ultimately did not hold up the vote. Senator Risch reportedly threatened to hold up the bill due to a provision in the Bill that added former Idaho Governor Cecil Andrus’ name to the official name of the White Clouds Wilderness preserve. Personal rivalry between Andrus and Risch seemed to be the motivation for the Senator’s strong opposition to the name change.
Risch and he was only assuaged to permit the Senate to speed up the vote on the bill when the Senate unanimously amended a House-passed resolution changing the formal title of the appropriations bill. The resolution went back to the House, which did not consider it, so fifty years from now, when anyone looks through table of contents of the Statutes at Large, the entry for the bill just enacted won’t say anything about appropriations – the bill will still have the original long title of the legislation taken by the House and used to carry the omnibus: “To amend the State Department Basic Authorities Act of 1956 to include severe forms of trafficking in persons within the definition of transnational organized crime for purposes of the rewards program of the Department of State, and for other purposes.” Senator Risch still voted “no” on the spending bill.
Though the White House issued a statement on behalf of the Administration on Thursday supporting the bill, the President himself threatened to veto the bill on Twitter Friday morning, citing a lack of DACA support and lower than desired levels of funding for his border wall. Earlier in the week, the Speaker of the House had sat down with Trump to walk through the bill with him, which combined with official White House statements and direct quotes from Trump, and personal lobbying from Secretary of Defense Mattis, was enough to get Trump back on board with the bill his staff had helped negotiate.
After the drama, Trump signed the bill Friday afternoon after an impromptu press conference in which he condemned the bill.