Trump backs budget deal reached in Congress: White House


Washington (AFP)

US President Donald Trump will sign off on a massive spending deal reached by Republican and Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill, the White House said Thursday, acknowledging it did not fulfill all of their wishes.

"Is the president going to sign the bill? The answer is yes," Mick Mulvaney, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, told reporters.

"Is it perfect? No. Is it exactly what we asked for? No."

Both Republican and Democratic lawmakers have welcomed the $1.3 trillion spending bill, which would fund the government for the remainder of fiscal 2018.

The bill must pass Congress and reach the president's desk for his signature by the time federal funding expires at midnight Friday night, or the government slides into a shutdown.

The measure, which was unveiled late Wednesday, sets defense spending levels, including a 2.4 percent raise for troops, at $700 billion for the year -- an increase of $61 billion over the 2017 cap. Non-defense domestic spending will reach $591 billion, an increase of about 10 percent.

It provides $1.6 billion -- far less than Trump wanted -- for border security and funds to construct or repair nearly 100 miles (160 kilometers) of border fencing and barriers, boosts infrastructure spending, and increases funds for school safety and student grants.

But there has been opposition in some quarters, notably by Democrats furious over the measure's failure to include protections for immigrants who arrived in the country illegally as children, and for not including a provision to stabilize the insurance market for low-income families.

Some fiscal conservatives have also bristled at how the expensive bill would balloon the federal deficit.

It must pass both the House of Representatives and Senate before going to Trump's desk.

The House was voting on the measure Thursday, before sending it to the Senate, where the timing remained up in the air.

Under Senate rules, legislation can only be speeding through the chamber if all 100 members agree to a fast-track process. If any senator objects, the process could slow down to the point that Congress would miss the Friday midnight deadline.