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Trump signs bill ending U.S. government shutdown
11 February 2018, 06:24 | Devin Moran
Alex Wong Getty Images Illinois Democrat Rep. Luis Gutierrez III
President Donald Trump signed a two-year budget agreement that will boost federal spending by nearly $300 billion and suspend the debt ceiling for a year, ending a brief partial government shutdown that began at midnight when lawmakers missed a funding deadline.
The House approved the bill by 240 votes to 186.
The 650-page plan proposes an increase in spending on defence and domestic services of about $300bn (£215bn).
Once known as the party of fiscal conservatism, the Republicans and Trump approved a sweeping tax overhaul bill in December that will add an estimated $1.5 trillion to the national debt over 10 years.
Trump says, "Without more Republicans in Congress, we were forced to increase spending on things we do not like or want" to help the USA military.
The US Capitol Building is seen at dusk in Washington DC. The measure, backed by the Senate's top leaders, was expected to sail through the chamber, but the situation was dicey in the House, where liberal Democrats and tea party conservatives both swung into opposition.
Almost $300 billion in new spending that is included in the bill approved on Friday will mean the annual budget deficit will exceed $1 trillion in 2019, said the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a private fiscal policy watchdog group in Washington.
The bill would also set up a two-year, $300 billion boost in spending on military and domestic programs.
The unexpected turn of events in the Senate underscored the persistent inability of the Republican-controlled Congress and Republican President Donald Trump to deal effectively with Washington's most basic fiscal obligations. And it provides $90 billion in disaster assistance for California, Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Trump signed the measure without fanfare after it received final congressional approval in the early hours yesterday.
The brief shutdown came at a sensitive time for financial markets, with world stock markets diving in the past week.
United States stocks plunged on Thursday on heavy volume, throwing off course a almost nine-year bull run. But absent an agreement among all senators on timing, final passage would be delayed until early Friday and the federal government could begin to shut down, at least briefly.
House conservatives were also balking, objecting to the enormous increase in federal spending, most of which would be piled onto the deficit with minimal attempts to offset it. He had harsh words for his own party.
"Now we have Republicans hand in hand with Democrats offering us trillion-dollar deficits", he said.
"I can't in all good honesty, in all good faith, just look the other way because my party is now complicit in the deficits", Paul said on the Senate floor as evening pushed into night. Really who is to blame?
At midnight on Thursday, funding authority for most federal agencies expired without any intervening action by Congress.
Ryan made a public pitch for votes on February 8, emphasizing the increased funding for the Pentagon to assuage the concerns of Republicans who said they would vote no because the plan also raised spending on domestic programs.
The bill is opposed by House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi because Republican House leaders will not guarantee her that they will allow a debate later on about taking steps to protect about 700,000 "Dreamer" immigrants from deportation.
These young people were brought illegally to the country as children years ago, mostly from Mexico. Trump said in September that he would end by March 5 former Democratic President Barack Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that protects the Dreamers from deportation. And despite initially suggesting that she would not be urging fellow Democrats to follow her lead, she increasingly appeared to be doing exactly that. Senate Republicans have pledged to hold a separate immigration debate this month.
No. 2 Senate Democratic leader Richard Durbin of IL, a leader in the immigration fight, said the budget pact "opens the door" for Senate votes on protecting the young immigrants.
"My commitment to working together on an immigration measure that we can make law is a honest commitment", he said. This is a moment we can't let pass without doing everything we can to move forward on DACA.
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Israel launched air raids in Syria yesterday after one of its fighter jets crashed (above) while under Syrian anti-aircraft fire. Israel says the episode began with an Iranian drone crossing into its territory from Syria in the early hours of Saturday.