The White House has Washington reeling again.
In a Friday tweet, President Donald Trump threatened to veto a massive omnibus spending bill. The legislation contains much-needed increases in defense spending, but at the same time is crammed with political payoffs to lawmakers that meet Democrat priorities, and doesn’t include nearly enough money for Trump’s proposed border wall.
And Trump has some important support.
The president’s tweet came just before 9 a.m. Friday, only hours after the Senate approved the $1.3 trillion plan to keep the government funded through September.
Lawmakers who opposed the massive spending plan immediately lined up on Trump’s side.
They included some of the most conservative members of the House and Senate, like Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Robert Corker of Tennessee, as well as the House Freedom Caucus.
Corker and Paul have not always been in agreement with Trump, and the Freedom Caucus is famous for its independent thinking in Congress, but their opposition to the budget lines up with Trump nicely in this case.
Even conservative groups that opposed Trump fiercely in the 2016 nomination process would likely be on the president’s side in a veto fight. (The bill passed by votes of passed 62-35 in the Senate and 256-167 in the House, according to Fox News. Both are short of the two-thirds majority needed to override a presidential veto.)
In an editorial on Thursday, the conservative publication National Review branded the bill as something that “would have been right at home in the Obama administration.”
Republican control of both houses of Congress and the White House should have meant a return to rational budget decisions, the editors wrote.
“Instead, Republicans are poised to pass an omnibus bill that, with the exception of the defense spending, is an embarrassment and a disgrace,” the editorial concluded.
The Wall Street Journal, one of the most respected voices for conservatives in American major journalism, summarized the bill nicely in an editorial headlined “Happy Bipartisan Budget Blowout Day”:
“Congress is spending enough to keep nearly everyone but taxpayers happy,” The Journal stated.
In Twitter posts of their own, Corker and Paul were equally disgusted.
Corker called the budget “totally irresponsible” and welcomed Trump’s veto threat.
Paul was just as direct.
In the House, North Carolina Republican Mark Meadows, the chairman of the Freedom Caucus, said conservatives would support a veto.
The president’s veto threat caught Washington by surprise, since Trump’s support had been widely assumed. In fact, many lawmakers have already left the nation’s capital, according to Fox.
With Trump threatening a veto, that could make for a sticky government shutdown at midnight Friday, when the current government funding expires. And with lawmakers already abandoning D.C. for the Easter recess, the logistics of new negotiations and votes could be a nightmare.
In the end, Trump might well sign the bill, and just intended the Friday morning Twitter blast to be a reminder that no spending deal is complete until the president signs off on it, literally.
But either way, more than a year into his presidency, he’s still sending shock waves through establishment D.C.
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