Trump signs spending bills, avoiding government shutdown

"With my signature today, you will witness the birth of the Space Force," he said during a pre-signing ceremony.

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By Dennis Romero

President Donald Trump late Friday approved a $1.4 trillion government spending package that includes some direct funding for what he has described as a border wall, as well as money to establish an Air Force operation called Space Force.

"With my signature today, you will witness the birth of the Space Force, and that will be now officially the sixth branch of the United States Armed Forces," Trump said during a signing ceremony. "That is something really incredible."

Trump's signature on a pair of bills will fund the federal government through Sept. 30. Trump signed the bills aboard Air Force One en route to a two-week holiday trip to his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.

Friday was the deadline to sign the budget bills or face having the government run out of authorized money to operate. Some Democrats who stood fast against funding Trump's border wall gave in in exchange for expanded domestic spending, although one-third of the party's House caucus opposed the border allocation.

The White House said the bills include $738 billion for defense, which represents a $22 billion increase over 2019; a 3.1 percent pay raise for members of the military and federal employees; $1.4 billion in "direct funding" for Trump's new barrier at the U.S.-Mexico border; and $1.7 billion for mental health programs.

Trump said during the ceremony at Joint Base Andrews Naval Air Facility that the Pentagon allotment is "an all-time record."

"In the history of our country, that’s the highest amount we've ever spent on our military," he said.

The bills also have perks for Democrats, including a repeal of taxes on high-end "Cadillac" health insurance benefits and a nixing of taxes on some Affordable Care Act plans.

The budget legislation also included a provision that will raise the age for legal tobacco purchases, including e-cigarettes and vaporizers, from 18 to 21.

Democrats were also able to bring back funding for gun violence research after two decades of opposition from firearms manufacturers.

Stacey Klein contributed.