Trump Signs a New Spending Bill That Increases Funding for the NEA and NEH, Despite Threats to Veto

Donald Trump may want to defund the NEA and NEH, but Congress has other plans, apparently. As part of a last-minute $1.3 trillion federal spending bill that passed this morning, the legislature has provided the two agencies with a $3 million funding increase over the previous fiscal year.

In the new bill, the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for Humanties will each get $152.8 million in funding for the rest of fiscal year 2018, according to the Washington PostPresident Donald Trump had originally proposed defunding both endowments in his 2018 budget proposal. This is the second time Congress has declined to do so.

The bill’s passage came less than 24 hours before the current government funding is set to expire. Although Reuters reported that Trump planned to pass the bill—as promised by White House budget director Mick Mulvaney—the president appeared to be reconsidering on Friday morning when he raised the possibility of a veto on Twitter. He had previously voiced tentative approval for the bill, based on its $66 billion in increased military funding and $1.6 billion allotted for the controversial border wall.

However, Trump’s border wall is projected to cost at least $18 billion to build, and the current budget only includes funding for repairs and limited additions to the current fence-like barriers, rather than the erection of any of the new wall prototypes. In September, the president announced plans to end the popular Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (or DACA) program in March, but the courts have filed actions allowing the program to continue for now. Trump cited the two issues as grounds for a possible veto.

The 2,232-page spending bill was introduced on Wednesday, with the House approving the following afternoon with a vote of 256 to 167. The Senate followed suit around 12:30 a.m. on Friday, 65 to 32.

Earlier this year, the government shut down for two days in January, and again for a brief overnight period in February, when Senator Rand Paul delayed a budget vote until after midnight.

The NEA and NEH, along with the Institute of Museum and Library Services, remain on the chopping block in Trump’s proposed 2019 budget, which would eliminate all three. The NEA funds arts programming in all 50 states, including many rural areas represented by Republicans—a number of whom have come to the agency’s defense.

UPDATE: Hours after threatening to veto the new budget passed by Congress, Trump caved and signed the bill into law, reports the Associated Press. At a press conference, the president cited increased military funding as a principal reason for signing the bill despite his misgivings. He said his “highest duty is to keep America safe” and that approving the budget was “a matter of national security.”

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