Congress on track to avert shut­down

Honolulu Star-Advertiser - - NATION | NATIONAL REPORT -

WASH­ING­TON >> De­spite in­cen­di­ary words from Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, Congress seemed on its way Wed­nes­day to ap­prov­ing leg­is­la­tion that would avert a par­tial gov­ern­ment shut­down over the week­end as all sides seemed ready to avert a con­fronta­tion — for now.

In­creas­ingly con­fi­dent House lead­ers planned a vote to­day on a bill that would keep fed­eral agen­cies func­tion­ing through Dec. 22, and Sen­ate ap­proval was ex­pected to fol­low. Even the head of the con­ser­va­tive House Free­dom Cau­cus, whose mem­bers have been threat­en­ing to op­pose the mea­sure, pre­dicted pas­sage.

The mod­er­ated tone re­flected a sense within both par­ties that though ma­jor dif­fer­ences re­main over spend­ing, im­mi­gra­tion, health care and other is­sues, this was no time for a head­line-grab­bing gov­ern­ment clo­sure.

Repub­li­cans want the pub­lic fo­cus to be on the party’s prized $1.5 tril­lion tax bill, which they hope to en­act by Christmas. They also have no in­ter­est in a shut­down that would raise ques­tions about their abil­ity to gov­ern.

While many Democrats seemed likely to op­pose the mea­sure, enough were ex­pected to sup­port it in the Sen­ate to al­low its pas­sage there. They know they’d still have lever­age on sub­se­quent bills needed to keep the gov­ern­ment run­ning.

Con­gres­sional lead­ers of both par­ties planned to meet Trump at the White House to­day to bar­gain over long-term spend­ing lim­its and other is­sues that have be­come en­tan­gled with law­mak­ers’ year-end work.

But Trump un­ex­pect­edly tossed a hand grenade into the mix when he told re­porters that a shut­down “could hap­pen” and blamed Democrats. He said they want “il­le­gal im­mi­grants pour­ing into our coun­try, bring­ing with them crime, tremen­dous amounts of crime.”

His com­ments drew a tweet from House Mi­nor­ity Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who called Trump “the only per­son talk­ing about a gov­ern­ment shut­down.”

The two-week bill is aimed at giv­ing ne­go­tia­tors more time to set­tle dif­fer­ences. The mea­sure also makes money avail­able to sev­eral states that are run­ning out of funds for the Chil­dren’s Health In­sur­ance Pro­gram, a widely pop­u­lar pro­gram that pro­vides med­i­cal care to more than 8 mil­lion chil­dren.

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