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House passes spending bill, first step in avoiding government shutdown

08 December 2017

Hardline conservative House Republicans want to break out funding for the military from an overall funding bill so they can increase defense spending, and to get what they want they are willing to support a two-week budget extension that would avoid a government shutdown. They say "we had a productive conversation on a wide variety of issues". "We can not plan for what we need to do with readiness", he said.

Democrats lamented the process used to approve the legislation and argued that Republicans had squandered time that could have been used to deal with long-term funding for issues such as the opioid crisis, children's health insurance and other issues.

Meanwhile, conservatives are warring with GOP leaders as well.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said after returning to the Capitol that while an agreement on spending limits wasn't reached, "We agreed that we want to resolve all of these issues in the next couple of weeks".

Negotiations are sure to be tricky. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi staked out a hard line on Thursday and insisted that any year-end deal would include help for immigrants brought to the USA illegally as children.

The immigrants are viewed sympathetically by the public and most lawmakers but face deportation in a few months because Trump reversed administrative protections provided to them by former President Barack Obama. On Monday, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California said she wouldn't say how she'd vote on the six-page bill without seeing it.

Pelosi returned from the White House to oppose Thursday's stopgap bill. It later passed on a 222-192 vote, with seven Republicans opposed. House Freedom Caucus leaders emerged from a closed-door meeting with Speaker Paul Ryan Wednesday morning - their second in two days - saying no deal has been reached.

Republican senators say they made the tax cuts temporary to comply with Senate budget rules that prevented Democrats from blocking the bill. That measure, which mostly benefits businesses and upper-income people, is Trump's and the GOP's top remaining priority and would be their first major legislative triumph of the year.

It now heads to President Donald Trump for his expected signature. "There will be zero support on numbers that are too high, regardless of anybody's position on that". "I think that will happen", said Trump, who has previously criticized Democrats for wanting to include immigration provisions in a new spending plan. It is unclear how that strategy would work, since Republicans control the Senate 52-48 and will need at least eight Democratic votes to pass any spending legislation.

But Trump unexpectedly tossed a political hand grenade into the mix when he told reporters that a shutdown "could happen" and blamed Democrats.

This time, the White House smoothed the waters by following up with a more peaceable, written statement.

Trump accused the Democratic leaders of being "all talk" and "no action".

The two-week spending bill provides funds to government agencies, from the defense department to the IRS, and makes money available to several states that are running out of funds for the children's health insurance program. CHIP, which has nearly always been a bipartisan priority, expired over two months ago, but Congressional Republicans continued to play games with this vital program that helps the most vulnerable children in our society ... The Senate seemed ready to follow.

The leader of the conservative House Freedom Caucus says Republicans' chief vote counter has told him there are enough votes to pass a short-term spending bill Thursday, keeping agencies open until December 22.

House passes spending bill, first step in avoiding government shutdown