Hours after threatening to veto the omnibus federal spending bill making its way through Congress, President Donald Trump instead signed the $1.3 trillion measure, despite grumbling about the legislation even as he approved it.
The measure includes more than $500 million in potential funds for the Gateway Tunnel project, among billions in defense spending, border security and infrastructure money.
“The White House and Congress have taken an important step toward unlocking new sources of funding that will drive economic growth across the nation,” Michael Friedberg, executive director of the Coalition for the Northeast Corridor, said in a statement after the signing. “Leaders from the administration and both sides of Capitol Hill have banded together across party lines to fund critical infrastructure along the Northeast Corridor that will improve America’s infrastructure and strengthen the economy.”
Passage of the spending bill prevents a government shutdown, but leaves unanswered some hot-button questions such as how to handle Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, cases, as well as how to fund the wall Trump wants built along the U.S. border with Mexico, according to multiple media reports.
The bill signing also ends months of short-term spending measures as politicians from both parties sought to avoid any lengthy government shutdown.
After the bill had worked its way through the House of Representatives, Greg Lalevee, the business manager of Local 825 of the International Union of Operating Engineers, told ROI-NJ he is taking a wait-and-see approach to the Gateway funding.
“There’s a nice commitment here, but I’m not sure it’s enough of a commitment,” he said. “I’ve seen all kinds of people getting ready to pop the champagne; we’re a long way from that.”
But Gov. Phil Murphy was among those saying they was looking forward to the project progressing.
“I am pleased to see that the federal omnibus spending bill contains hundreds of millions of dollars in funding that can be used for the Portal Bridge and the Gateway tunnel,” the governor said earlier in the week. “As I have said repeatedly, this essential project is not just a matter of state or regional importance, but a national priority. It is vital to our economic security, will generate billions in economic development and will bring thousands of good-paying jobs to the region.”