Published: Fri, December 08, 2017
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Congress appears on track to avert weekend government shutdown

Congress appears on track to avert weekend government shutdown

Top Republicans left no doubt that the House will approve legislation Thursday preventing a weekend partial government shutdown, erasing any suspense over an impending budget clash that would put a calamitous exclamation point at the end of the capital's tumultuous year.

Congressional Republican leaders as well as U.S. House of Representatives Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer are scheduled to meet with Trump on Thursday.

Trump has previously said a government shutdown "could happen" and indicated he would blame Democrats due to their demands on immigration. That would give bargainers time to work through their disagreements, but they will need Democratic votes to succeed.

"We are here in the spirit of, 'let's get it done, '" Schumer said.

Democrats have been using their leverage to insist on spending boosts for health care, infrastructure and other domestic programs that would match increases Republicans want for defense.

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Democrats are seeking to re-instate an Obama-era immigration policy to block deportation of children of parents who came into the country illegally. "It's a well-knit together group of people", Trump said. "Problem is they want illegal immigrants flooding into our Country unchecked, are weak on Crime and want to substantially RAISE Taxes", Trump wrote on November 28. "Democrats are hopeful the President will be open to an agreement to address the urgent needs of the American people and keep government open".

Pelosi and Schumer have both said that they are willing make a deal for protections for DREAMers that includes border security funds sought by Republicans, but not funding for a wall on the U.S. -Mexico border that the White House continues to call for.

"No one wants a shutdown, including Freedom Caucus members", Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., told reporters.

Earlier Wednesday, hard-right House conservatives signaled an openness to a short-term spending bill this week.

In another brewing battle, Meadows said conservatives would strongly oppose any spending bill with provisions extending protections for hundreds of thousands of immigrants who arrived in the US illegally as children.

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Meadows said they'll help it pass to avoid distractions from the GOP drive to push their treasured $1.5 trillion tax bill through Congress this month.

Mark Meadows and several others in the roughly 30-member group aren't ruling out backing a leadership-backed spending measure that would expire December 22.

Top Republicans are adamant about not sparking a federal shutdown that would deal the latest blow to a party that has strained all year to show it can govern effectively. But they will need some Democratic support to get the temporary spending bill past Senate procedural hurdles that require 60 votes, since there are only 52 Republicans in the 100-member chamber.

Besides temporarily financing the government, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said the short-term measure would make cash available to several states that are running out of money for the Children's Health Insurance Program.

Trump has given Congress until March to resolve the issue, with Democrats wanting to vote now, and Republicans mostly hoping to put off any immigration vote until next year after approving the tax and budget legislation. That widely popular program provides medical care to more than 8 million children.

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