The Slatest

White House Threatened to Veto Massive Spending Bill Over Ukraine Aid Requirement

President Donald Trump looks on during a signing ceremony on S.1790, the "National Defense Authorization Act for FY2020" at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland on December 20, 2019.
President Donald Trump looks on during a signing ceremony on S.1790, the “National Defense Authorization Act for FY2020” at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland on December 20, 2019. NICHOLAS KAMM/Getty Images

Senior officials in Trump’s administration made clear to House Democrats over the past week that a presidential veto on a massive spending bill could become a reality if they didn’t nix a provision that would have required future military aid for Ukraine be released quickly. The Washington Post was first to report on the threat over the language that could have led to a government shutdown and was ultimately left out of the legislation.

The measure that House Democrats wanted to include in the bill would have required the White House to release future military aid to Ukraine within 45 days. That provision would have been included at the end of a year in which the White House refused to release aid to Ukraine as Trump had asked his Ukrainian counterpart to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter. But senior officials said that was one of several measure that could have led to an impeachment. “We made crystal clear that no restriction on the president’s apportionment powers would be acceptable to him regardless of topic,” White House legislative affairs director Eric Ueland said. “And through a lot of negotiation and work back and forth, the administration and Congress were able to reach an appropriate outcome on that issue.” Officials insisted the White House’s objections had nothing to do with Ukraine itself but rather was about protecting the president’s powers over controlling spending that has been approved by Congress.

Trump later signed the spending bills after he left Washington Friday preventing a government shutdown at least until September. The two spending packages totaled some $1.4 trillion and include a slew of measures, including getting rid of some taxes used to fund Obamacare and an increase the age for tobacco purchases to 21. Earlier, the president signed a defense authorization bill that that included paid parental leave for federal employees and authorized the creation of a new Space Force branch of the military.

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