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President Donald Trump on Friday signed into law a massive $1.5 trillion tax bill, capping off a yearlong effort by the White House and Republicans in Congress to slash tax rates for both corporations and individuals.
Trump also signed a short-term spending bill to fund the government, just hours before the midnight Friday deadline to avoid a partial government shutdown.
Speaking to reporters during an impromptu signing ceremony, Trump called the tax plan, "a bill for the middle class and a bill for jobs."
He also touted the positive reaction that the bill's corporate tax cuts have garnered from the business community. "Corp[orations are are literally going wild," he said.
The president had initially planned to sign the tax bill in early January, he said, but decided to sign it Friday morning after he listened to cable news shows discussing whether the bill would become law in time for Christmas.
"I watched the news this morning, and they're all saying, 'will he keep his promise? Will he sign it by Christmas?'" Trump said, "and so I called downstairs, I said 'Get it ready, we have to sign it now.'"
The GOP contends that the more than $1.4 trillion in tax cuts contained in the bill will spark business investment, hiring and wage growth. Democrats call the Republican proposal a giveaway to corporations at the expense of the middle class, issuing dire warnings about the $1 trillion or more it is projected to add to federal budget deficits over a decade.
Trump, however, said that "Democrats very much regret" not having backed the Republican tax cuts. "They wanted to be a part of it," he said, adding that in the coming year, "I really do believe we're going to have a lot of bipartisan work done."
For now, the enactment of the tax bill hands Republicans a much-needed victory going into next years midterm elections.
Democrats, meanwhile, have seized on dismal public opinion polling on the plan and the fact that most individual tax cuts would expire under it while a massive corporate tax decrease would be permanent.
The short-term spending bill, while not nearly as large or as contentious as the tax reform, was nonetheless critical to avoiding what could have been a disastrous government shutdown over the holidays. The continuing resolution extends current spending levels through January 19. and funds the popular Children's Health Insurance Program until March.
The emergency funding legislation also contained what's called a "pay-go waiver," a provision that suspends the rules governing how Congress has to pay for certain programs. Without the waiver, Trump would have had to wait until the New Year to sign the expensive tax cuts into law, or risk triggering draconian automatic spending cuts..
After signing the bills, Trump left Washington, D.C. for Palm Beach, Florida, where the president plans to spend Christmas at his Mar-a-Lago Club.