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US PRESIDENT Donald Trump ratified a last-minute budget Bill after it was passed at dawn today — avoiding a government shutdown by the skin of his teeth.
Millions of federal employees faced being sent home from work or going unpaid if temporary funding legislation passed last month expired without a replacement measure being put in place.
But the lower House of Representatives debated through the night to approve a $400 billion (£290bn) Bill passed by the Senate late yesterday.
American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) members protested that day, urging Congress to avoid a repeat of January’s three-day funding gap.
They also called for cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), where the union organises, to be reversed. Mr Trump has slashed EPA funding by a third, risking a “public health emergency” according to campaigners.
Dissident Republican Rand Paul repeatedly filibustered in a bid to block yesterday’s Senate vote, saying the budget would mark a return to deficits run up under former president Barack Obama.
“I didn’t come up here to be part of somebody’s club. I didn’t come up here to be liked,” he said.
Many Democrats were also unhappy that the Bill contained no guarantees on the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (Daca) scheme, which granted temporary work permits to immigrants illegally trafficked into the US as children.
Mr Trump cancelled the executive order last year, telling Congress to legislate a permanent replacement.
Both sides pressed for $89bn (£65bn) for disaster relief for the 2017 hurricanes, extending a host of healthcare provisions, and extending a slew of smaller tax breaks.
In a tweet announcing his signing of the Bill, Mr Trump trumpeted an increase in the US’s already massive defence spending — and said it meant “jobs, jobs, jobs!”
“Our military will now be stronger than ever before,” he said. “We love and need our military and gave them everything — and more.”
But he slammed compromise with the Democrats on increased funding to domestic agencies and urged a vote for Republicans in this year’s mid-term congressional elections.
“Without more Republicans in Congress, we were forced to increase spending on things we do not like or want,” he said. “Costs on non-military lines will never come down if we do not elect more Republicans.
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