Short-term deal passed to keep U.S. run­ning

The Buffalo News - - WASHINGTON NEWS - By Mike DeBonis WASHINGTON POST

WASHINGTON – Congress passed a short-term spend­ing bill Thurs­day, avoid­ing a par­tial gov­ern­ment shut­down in the com­ing days but set­ting up a more heated spend­ing fight later this month. The mea­sure to ex­tend gov­ern­ment fund­ing un­til Dec. 22 passed the House and Se­nate by com­fort­able mar­gins. Pres­i­dent Trump in­di­cated he will sign the stop­gap deal, avert­ing a par­tial gov­ern­ment shut­down that had been set to take ef­fect at 12:01 a.m. Satur­day.

Con­gres­sional lead­ers of both par­ties went to the White House on Thurs­day af­ter­noon to be­gin talks with Trump on a long-term spend­ing pact.

“We’re all here to­day as a very friendly, well-uni­fied group, well-knit-to­gether group of peo­ple,” Trump said at the top of the Oval Of­fice meet­ing. “We hope that we’re go­ing to make some great progress for our coun­try. I think that will hap­pen, and we’ll ap­pre­ci­ate it very much.”

But there are clear ob­sta­cles to any deal. Trump him­self cast doubt Wed­nes­day, telling re­porters that Democrats “want to have il­le­gal im­mi­grants pour­ing into our coun­try, bring­ing with them crime, tremen­dous amounts of crime.” A shut­down over the is­sue, he said, “could hap­pen.”

The short-term deal passed in part be­cause it main­tained the sta­tus quo on gov­ern­ment spend­ing lev­els and poli­cies. Both par­ties are pre­par­ing for a spend­ing and pol­icy fight as they eye a longer-term deal.

The chair­man of the House Free­dom Cau­cus, a group of hard-line con­ser­va­tives who have bucked GOP lead­ers on past gov­ern­ment spend­ing bills, warned that any bi­par­ti­san deal on spend­ing risked a Repub­li­can re­volt later this month.

“It takes two bod­ies to put some­thing into law, and the pres­i­dent’s agree­ment to a caps deal does not mean that it is fis­cally the best thing for the coun­try,” Rep. Mark Mead­ows, R-N.C., said. “I want to avoid a head­line that says Pres­i­dent Trump’s ad­min­is­tra­tion just passed the high­est spend­ing lev­els in U.S. his­tory.”

House Mi­nor­ity Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., laid out a host of Demo­cratic de­mands, rang­ing from fund­ing for vet­er­ans and to fight the opi­oid cri­sis to pas­sage of a bill that would grant le­gal sta­tus to hun­dreds of thou­sands of “dream­ers” – im­mi­grants brought with­out doc­u­men­ta­tion to the United States as chil­dren.

The main source of the Democrats’ lever­age, how­ever, is the GOP de­sire to hike mil­i­tary spend­ing to more than $600 bil­lion in 2018. Un­der a 10-year bud­get deal struck in 2011, Congress may ap­pro­pri­ate a max­i­mum of $549 bil­lion for de­fense pro­grams and $516 bil­lion for non­de­fense pro­grams next year. Repub­li­can lead­ers have floated a $54 bil­lion boost in de­fense next year and a $37 bil­lion boost in non­de­fense spend­ing; Democrats have thus far de­manded equiv­a­lent in­creases for both in do­mes­tic spend­ing.

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