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Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

President Trump announced that he has signed the $1.3 trillion spending bill that passed Congress last night "as a matter of national security," citing the bill's increase in defense spending, even though he threatened to veto earlier today. "My highest duty is to keep America safe," Trump said. He said he's disappointed in most of the bill.

Key quote: "I will never sign another bill like this again. I'm not going to do it again. Nobody read it. It's only hours old."

The back story: Trump’s veto threat was completely unplanned and staff (including legislative affairs) found out from the push alert on their phone, according to a Hill staffer who has worked with the administration.

The staffer added that some congressional Democrats were happy about it because Trump would either get blamed for a government shutdown or concede on DACA with minimal border funding.

President Trump criticized the process of creating the omnibus bill in Congress, saying it moved too quickly and lawmakers didn't have enough time to read the 2,232-page document. "I’m calling on Congress to give me a line-item veto for all government spending bills," he proposed, "and the Senate must end the filibuster rule."

  • He also blamed Democrats over DACA not being addressed in the bill, even though he previously didn't sign bipartisan immigration legislation. "DACA recipients have been treated extremely badly by the Democrats," he said. "We wanted to include DACA, we wanted to have them in the bill. The Democrats would not do it."
  • In further addressing DACA, the president said: "Republicans are much more on your side than the Democrats, who are using you for their own purposes."
  • Although he said "there are a lot of things I’m unhappy about in this bill," he pointed to the $1.6 billion funding for border wall security, and said on Monday "we're going to start on a new wall."

One last thing: As he was walking out of the press conference, Trump answered a reporter's question about why he didn't veto the bill after all: "Because of the incredible gains we've been able to make for the military that overrode [a veto]."

Go deeper: How Congress missed yet another chance for an immigration deal.

Go deeper

OIG: HHS misused millions of dollars intended for public health threats

Vaccine vials. Photo: Punit Paranjpe/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. Office of Special Counsel alerted the White House and Congress on Wednesday of an investigation that found the Department of Health and Human Services misused millions of dollars that were budgeted for vaccine research and public health emergencies for Ebola, Zika and now the COVID-19 pandemic.

Why it matters: The more than 200-page investigation corroborated claims from a whistleblower, showing the agency's violation of the Purpose Statute spanned both the Obama and Trump administrations and paid for unrelated projects like salaries, news subscriptions and the removal of office furniture.

John Kerry: U.S.-China climate cooperation is a "critical standalone issue"

President Biden's special climate envoy John Kerry said Wednesday that the U.S. must deal with China on climate change as a "critical standalone issue," but stressed that confronting Beijing's human rights and trade abuses "will never be traded" for climate cooperation.

Why it matters: The last few years have brought about a bipartisan consensus on the need for the U.S. to confront China's aggression. But as the world's largest greenhouse gas emitter, China will be a vital player if the world is going to come close to reining in emissions on the scale needed to meet the Paris Agreement goals of limiting warming to 2°C above pre-industrial levels.

In cyber espionage, U.S. is both hunted and hunter

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

American outrage over foreign cyber espionage, like Russia's SolarWinds hack, obscures the uncomfortable reality that the U.S. secretly does just the same thing to other countries.

Why it matters: Secrecy is often necessary in cyber spying to protect sources and methods, preserve strategic edges that may stem from purloined information, and prevent diplomatic incidents.