In the latest episode of the Republican president throwing his White House, Congress and the federal government off balance, Trump had threatened in an early morning tweet to kill the government funding deal.
Initially, it had been a foregone conclusion that Trump would sign the ahead of a midnight deadline to keep the government running.
Trump used the threat to draw attention to his displeasure about immigration issues, although he said the bill would boost funding to the military, one of his top priorities.
“There are a lot of things I’m unhappy about in this bill,” he told reporters, patting the more than 2,000 pages of the bill stacked on a purple box beside him in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House.
“I will never sign another bill like this again,” he said. “Nobody read it. It’s only hours old.”
The tweeted veto threat had caught Trump’s own aides by surprise, as well as lawmakers in the Republican-dominated Senate and House of Representatives, who had already left Washington for a scheduled two-week spring recess. Trump himself was scheduled on Friday to fly to Florida for a weekend at his private resort.
It was unclear how seriously Republican leaders took Trump’s shutdown threat and neither Speaker Paul Ryan nor Senate Leader Mitch McConnell commented publicly on it.
Trump has been frustrated that Congress has not turned over funding to make good on his campaign promise to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. The bill includes $1.6 billion for six month’s of work on the project but he had sought $25 billion for it.
Trump also has been at odds with Democrats in Congress over the fate of Dreamer immigrants – those brought to the United States illegally when they were children.
Trump canceled the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that gives work permits to the Dreamers and protects them from deportation. The decision is currently tied up in court cases.