Trump Signs $1.3 Trillion Spending Bill After Veto Threat Hours earlier, the president had hinted at vetoing the legislation but relented, citing "national security." The threat added suspense to what otherwise would have been a perfunctory signing ceremony.
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Trump Signs $1.3 Trillion Spending Bill, Averting A Government Shutdown

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Trump Signs $1.3 Trillion Spending Bill, Averting A Government Shutdown

Trump Signs $1.3 Trillion Spending Bill, Averting A Government Shutdown

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

President Trump has signed a $1.3 trillion spending bill, but he made a point of saying he wasn't happy about it. And that signature only came after the president set up a reality television-style cliffhanger. NPR White House correspondent Tamara Keith reports.

TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: There wasn't supposed to be any suspense. The Senate passed the spending bill known as the Omnibus on a bipartisan basis in the wee hours of the morning. It had already passed the House. All that was needed to avoid a government shutdown was a presidential signature, something that just the day before had been assured by White House budget director Mick Mulvaney.

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MICK MULVANEY: Let's cut right to the chase. Is the president going to sign the bill? The answer is yes. Why? Because it funds his priorities.

KEITH: But over on "Fox & Friends..."

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "FOX & FRIENDS")

PETE HEGSETH: This is a swamp budget.

KEITH: ...Host Pete Hegseth wasn't so thrilled with the bill.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "FOX & FRIENDS")

HEGSETH: You know, there's no DREAMers in there. There's some pro-life stuff in there.

STEVE DOOCY: There's no wall.

HEGSETH: There's no insurance (unintelligible). But there's no wall. I mean, if you can't - ultimately, the Democrats controlled this process in the Senate.

KEITH: This is a show President Trump is known to watch, and at 8:55 a.m., Trump threw in a dramatic plot twist.

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UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Moments ago, the president did something that I don't think anyone saw coming when he threatened to veto this huge $1.3 trillion spending bill.

KEITH: It came via a tweet. Quote, "I am considering a veto of the Omnibus Spending Bill." His reason - because it didn't deal with immigration and didn't have enough money for his border wall. This sent shock waves over on Capitol Hill where most members of Congress were long gone, having recessed for spring break. Suddenly, no one knew what the president was going to do. The silence was broken by another tweet. Trump announced he would be making a statement, which of course would be carried live on TV. Would he sign it or wouldn't he? Trump started off talking about trade with South Korea.

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PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I might ask Secretary Ross to just say a few words about that, and then we're going to get on to this ridiculous situation that took place over the last week.

KEITH: That ridiculous situation, it seems, was the government funding bill, which three minutes into his remarks and 4 1/2 hours after that veto threat tweet, Trump announced he had already signed.

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TRUMP: Therefore, as a matter of national security, I've signed this Omnibus budget bill. There are a lot of things that I'm unhappy about in this bill.

KEITH: And he added...

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TRUMP: But I say to Congress, I will never sign another bill like this again. I'm not going to do it again.

KEITH: Even before today's suspense, it had been a White House week made for TV. First, Trump added a new lawyer to his legal team dealing with the special counsel investigation who was a regular on Fox News. Then, late yesterday, Trump announced via tweet that he was replacing his national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, with former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. and more recently Fox News contributor John Bolton, who shortly after the announcement was interviewed on Fox.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MARTHA MACCALLUM: Your reaction to your new job.

JOHN BOLTON: Well, I think I still am a Fox News contributor.

MACCALLUM: (Laughter) No, you're not, apparently (laughter).

BOLTON: I didn't - well, I haven't started there yet, so that demonstrates, I think, the sort of limbo that I'm in because I didn't really expect an announcement this afternoon. But it's obviously a great honor. It's always an honor to serve our country.

KEITH: This came less than two weeks after Trump announced he would replace his top economic adviser with CNBC contributor Larry Kudlow. Oh, and one of the people rumored to be up for the job of V.A. secretary - if the president decides to make a change - is none other than Pete Hegseth, the Fox News personality who quite possibly prompted Trump's morning veto threat. Roll the credits. Tune in next week. Tamara Keith, NPR News, the White House.

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