TrumpWatch, Day 386: Trump Grumbles as Spending Deal Averts Government Shutdown

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Trump praises military funding, but grumbling about money for domestic programs


Developments on Day 386 of the Trump Administration:

See also
Trump Puts Defense Before Diplomacy, as He Demands His Military Parade

Trump: “Forced to Increase Spending on Things We Do Not Like”

Donald Trump signs a spending deal to avert a Federal Government shutdown, but grumbles about increased funding of domestic programs.

The bipartisan agreement was confirmed Friday morning in both chambers of Congress, after the Government was technically closed for a few hours following a filibuster by Republican Senator Rand Paul.

By a 240-186 vote, the House of Representatives confirmed the Senate’s endorsement. Sixty-seven Republicans, objecting to the raising of the Government debt ceiling, voted No. However, 73 Democrats — despite concerns that there is no provision for the status of almost 800,000 young undocumented “Dreamer” immigrants — helped put through the bill.

The legislation provides for about $300 billion in extra spending for the military and domestic programs over the next two years. Included are $20 billion for infrastructure, $6 billion for the opioid crisis and mental health, $5.8 billion for child care, $4 billion for veterans hospitals and clinics, and almost $90 billion in disaster relief in response to last year’s hurricanes and wildfires.

The agreement also authorizes an additional four-year extension of funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, on top of the six-year extension that Congress approved last month. The Trump Administration and Republicans in Congress had allowed the expiry of CHIP, which covers almost 9 million children, last September.

The Trump Administration still has to pass its first full budget. It has six weeks to get Congressional approval before the expiry of the next deadline for supplemental funding.

But the Administration’s plans have already been unravelled by the authorization of more money on the domestic front. Its proposed budget included deep slashes in the budgets of all agencies except the military, homeland security, and veterans affairs. Among the cuts were reductions in support of health, education, agriculture, and alleviation of poverty.

The State Department and Environmental Protection Agency, earmarked for cuts of more than 30%, are still among the departments exposed despite the adoption of the spending bill.

On Twitter, Trump tried to balance between his pro-military posture and discontent over support of other areas. He initially tweeted:

Minutes later, he complained:

He continued the line in a third tweet, while referring to the imminent showdown over the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, with the Administration terminating its protection of Dreamers on March 5:

Vetoing proposed bipartisan legislation, the White House has issued an ultimatum over a path to citizenship for the Dreamers and about 1 million other undocumented immigrants. The Administration says an immigration bill must also include full funding of the $25 billion Wall with Mexico, an end to immigrants bringing any family members to the US, termination of the diversity visa lottery, sharp increases in spending on border security, and a cut of almost half in admission of immigrants and refugees.


Is White House Preparing to Ditch Chief of Staff Kelly?

Amid confusion in the White House, signals grow louder that Chief of Staff John Kelly might be forced out.

The Trump Administration has been embroiled in controversy this week over Rob Porter, a senior member of Kelly’s office, who maintained his position for more than a year despite allegations from two ex-wives of domestic abuse.

Porter finally resigned but only as the White House continued to offer support through Wednesday, with Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders saying both Trump and Kelly had “full confidence” in his performance.

Unnamed staff have criticized Kelly’s handling of the episode. They said that, on Friday, the Chief of Staff maintained that he learned of the abuse allegations only 40 minutes before he removed Porter from his office on Tuesday. “Two people familiar with the comments” said most staff were “incredulous” as they knew Kelly was lying.

Multiple sources have set out a timeline in which Porter told White House lawyers in January 2017 of his ex-wives’ allegations. However, he was allowed to take on his role while the White House, rather than investigating the claims, passed the matter to the FBI.

In November, the agency said the allegations were credible, meaning that Porter could not be given a full security clearance. There was still no change in his position at the White House.

White House sources have long said that Ivanka Trump dislikes Kelly and any influence that he has over his father.

In a sign of competing camps — and the possible pressure on Kelly to depart — the Chief of Staff said that he had not offered to resign, although he would leave if Trump issued a request. In contrast, two unnamed officials said that Kelly had told Trump that he is willing to step down.

Trump has reportedly interviewed possible replacements for Kelly, including Office of Management and Budget director Mick Mulvaney and chief economic advisor Gary Cohn.

White House officials have said that Trump was furious with Porter when he finally learned of the allegations, but Trump was publicly effusive about the staffer in comments on Friday, “We wish him well….He did a good job”:

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