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Trump Signs Budget Agreement, Ending US Government Shutdown


President Donald Trump speaks to reporters in the Oval Office of the White House, Feb. 9, 2018, in Washington.

U.S. President Donald Trump has signed a sweeping bipartisan budget bill, ending a brief government shutdown and adding hundreds of billions of dollars in spending on domestic programs, disaster aid and the military.

Trump signed the measure without fanfare after it received final congressional approval in the early hours of Friday morning.

White House officials said the lack of a signing ceremony indicated Trump's displeasure with the last-minute additions that will further add to the government's ballooning deficit. In two subsequent morning tweets, he took aim at Democrats, who had demanded more domestic spending in return for the votes needed to win enough bipartisan support to pass the deal.

The House voted in the wee hours of the morning, 240-186, to approve the measure, which funds the government through March 23. Hours earlier, the Senate had voted 71-28 in favor.

The deal gives appropriations committees in both houses of Congress time to craft a detailed spending plan that will fund the government through September of 2019.

Several lawmakers on the left and right opposed the bill, including conservative Republicans who objected to the large spending increases. Progressive Democrats protested the omission of language that would end the threat of deportation for more than one million young undocumented immigrants, known as "Dreamers," who were brought to the United States as children.

Trump ordered an end to the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program last year. Participants face deportation when the program expires March 5 unless Congress takes action.

Trump, in his third tweet of the day, applauded the exclusion of the Dreamers, or recipients of the DACA provision, from the spending bill. "Fortunately, DACA not included in this Bill, negotiations to start now!" he wrote.

Republican and Democratic legislative leaders praised the deal.

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) walks to the House floor before a vote to pass a budget and to end a government shutdown on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., Feb. 9, 2018.
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) walks to the House floor before a vote to pass a budget and to end a government shutdown on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., Feb. 9, 2018.

"This is a great victory for our men and women in uniform. Republicans and Democrats joined together to finally give our troops the resources and our generals the certainty to plan for the future," said House Speaker Paul Ryan.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, who had opposed earlier versions of the bill that cut domestic and disaster relief spending, also claimed victory.

"What makes Democrats proudest of this bill is that after a decade of cuts to programs that help the middle class, we have a dramatic reversal," Schumer said. "Funding for education, infrastructure, fighting drug abuse, and medical research will all, for the first time in years, get very significant increases, and we have placed Washington on a path to deliver more help to the middle class in the future."

Dreamers' plight

Demonstrators rally in support of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) outside the Capitol, in Washington, Jan 21, 2018.
Demonstrators rally in support of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) outside the Capitol, in Washington, Jan 21, 2018.

While Schumer and the Democrats yielded on the DACA issue, Republican leaders gave assurances that overhauling America's immigration system remains high on their agenda.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has promised to start Senate floor debate on immigration reform, including a fix for DACA recipients, as soon as spending issues are resolved.

Speaker Ryan gave a similar assurance Thursday, saying, "To anyone who doubts my commitment to solve this problem and bring up a DACA and immigration reform bill, do not. We will bring a solution to the floor, one that the president will sign."

A single Republican senator had held up passage of the budget bill Thursday, forcing the brief government shutdown, to underscore his fear that increasing spending by hundreds of billions of dollars would explode America's already rising federal deficit and add to the nation's more than $20 trillion national debt.

"The reason I'm here tonight is to put people on the spot," Kentucky Senator Rand Paul said in a fiery floor speech that went on for hours. "I want people to feel uncomfortable. I want them to have to answer people at home who said, How come you were against President [Barack] Obama's deficits and then how come you're for Republican deficits?'"

Michael Bowman contributed to this report.

Watch related video by VOA's Katherine Gypson:

Congress Reaches Budget Compromise, But No Deal Yet on 'Dreamers'
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