Congress Hopes To Avoid Looming Government Shutdown With New Bill

Senate passes bill to push shutdown deadline

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 ...

But all eyes will be on the White House, where President Donald Trump and top congressional leaders met earlier Thursday to resolve longstanding policy differences so Congress can pass a long-term spending bill by Christmas.And that's no sure thing.

The fight over how long to keep the government running after its current funding expires at 12:01 a.m. on December 9 added unexpected drama to what is typically a sleepy vote on allowing the two chambers to start hammering out a compromise between their two versions of the tax overhaul.

The temporary spending bill passed the House largely along party lines. But on Thursday, the group's chairman, Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., said the group will likely give leaders whatever support they need to pass the legislation.

"Ultimately there are no good decisions that get made three days before Christmas, ever", Meadows said.

Signs of growing conservative concerns surfaced during the vote on the tax bill around 7 caucus members either withheld their votes or were voting "no" against launching tax negotiations.

The U.S. House and the Senate passed a short-term spending bill Thursday, hoping to head off a possible government shutdown.

Meadows also spoke twice Monday evening directly with Trump about his group's idea.

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The two Democrats said in a statement that nothing specific had been agreed at the meeting, which included a briefing from Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis about military issues. And Freedom Caucus members switched their "no" votes to "yes".

Florida Republican Reps. Carlos Curbelo and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen said they would vote against any year-end spending deal not including an immigration deal.

He said the group wants the spending bill to come after the tax plan is considered, "Because if they come at the same time, who knows what else gets added to what I suspect is already going to be an already bad spending bill". 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.

While many Democrats seemed likely to oppose the short-term bill, enough were expected to support it in the Senate to allow its passage there.

"We'll see what they have", House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., told reporters late Monday about the GOP's spending plans.

Last week, an unexpected attack by Trump on Schumer and Pelosi prompted the two to skip a bargaining session. That bill would give legalization and a path to citizenship to almost 2 million so-called "Dreamers" - DACA recipients and other undocumented immigrants who arrived as children.

Despite the impasse, McConnell vowed Monday that the Senate would pass the spending bill by the end of the week. Republicans are pushing for hundreds of billions more for Pentagon spending, but Democrats insist that it must be matched with equal money for nondefense programs.

In addition to a simple date change CR, this resolution provides for a change in the way that the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) emergency shortfall funds are distributed to states until December 31, 2017, so that no state's CHIP funding is depleted during the month of December. Fourteen Democrats supported the measure, however, while 18 Republicans were opposed.


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