Thursday, 21 February, 2019

House passes bill to avert government shutdown, setting up pre-Christmas showdown

Probably No Shutdown at Least This Week                 


     REUTERS  James Lawler Duggan Probably No Shutdown at Least This Week REUTERS James Lawler Duggan
Melinda Barton | 08 December, 2017, 01:48

"It could happen", Trump said during a Cabinet meeting at the White House, in response to a reporter's question about the Friday deadline for a spending bill to fund the government. At the same time they will be rushing to finish work on tax legislation before leaving Washington for the holidays.

The Democratic surrender was exposed in the Democratic leaders' explanation for why they want their members to vote against the GOP short-term budget extension, dubbed the "CR" for "Continuing Resolution".

The spending bill will now move to the Senate, where lawmakers said it could be passed as early as Thursday evening, and sent to the president's desk for signature.

In the Senate, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said his preference is for a two-week funding bill. Pelosi said she's open to accepting the White House's request for a defense increase, but Democrats will insist on "parity" for the other programs. That stopgap measure could be combined with other legislation, including measures shoring up Obamacare insurance markets and extending a children's health insurance program.

Leaders told members they'll gauge support among Republicans for a December 22 stopgap measure.

"I'm exhausted of seeing the same play again and again", he said. At that time, Congress is expected to pass another short-term patch so that appropriators can craft a spending package to keep federal agencies funded through the rest of the 2018 fiscal year.

The ceiling on federal borrowing was suspended in September but snaps back into place on Friday.

Schumer and House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi skipped a meeting with him last week after Trump tweeted that he doubted he could reach any deal with them.

Ryan also discussed the looming government shutdown, saying Republicans will seek a short term extension to keep the government up and running.

Congress seems set to prevent a weekend government shutdown.

Both the House and Senate tax overhaul plans cut the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent, while trimming rates for individuals and eliminating certain exemptions and deductions. Nobody here wants a shutdown.

Many Republicans want to see the cap on defense spending raised.

In the days leading up to the vote, members of the hardline conservative House Freedom Caucus threatened to vote against the deal unless they were allowed input in the next-round of funding negotiations.

Pelosi said Democrats have no interest in a government shutdown, but they can't support the GOP's continuing resolution because it omits a long list of provisions the Democrats consider must-pass this year, including protections for so-called Dreamers and funding for the opioid crisis, hurricane and wildfire relief, veterans issues and pension protections ... The defense measure, H.R. 3219, would give the Defense Department $584.2 billion in discretionary funding and $73.9 billion in war funding - more than the current $522 billion cap for the Pentagon alone.

"This bill kicks the can down the road for two weeks just so Republicans can continue focusing on the greatest tax scam in history", said Representative Barbara Lee, Democrat of California.

While GOP leaders and conservatives say they are both eager to avoid a "distraction" that might derail tax reform legislation, they're struggling to reach a truce to avoid a government shutdown. Conservatives say setting the deadline before Christmas, when lawmakers want to go home, gives Democrats more leverage to get higher spending into the legislation.