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House Republicans approve stopgap government funding, averting shutdown threat for now

Lisa Mascaro, Tribune Washington Bureau on

Published in News & Features

WASHINGTON -- House Republicans approved legislation Thursday to keep the government running -- something they've rarely been able to do on their own -- ensuring a week-end shutdown will likely be averted.

The Senate was expected to follow suit later Thursday.

Most House Democrats refused to support the stopgap measure, which extends government operations through Dec. 22. In a 235-193 vote, only 12 Democrats voted yes.

That put pressure on House Speaker Paul D. Ryan to assemble the votes from Republicans on his own.

Typically House GOP leaders, even when the hold the majority, have been unable to pass spending measures without significant support from Democrats. They face problems because Republican deficit hawks often refuse to vote for any legislation adds to debt without slashing spending elsewhere and defense hawks demand more money for the military.

Earlier Thursday, President Donald Trump invited Ryan, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and the Senate leaders to the White House to begin outlining the contours of a broader deal to fund the government through fiscal 2018.

 

"We hope that we're going to make some great progress for our country," Trump said at the start of the meeting in the Oval Office.

But Congress faces a time crunch to reach agreement amid broad divisions. Thursday's vote essentially punts the potential crisis to right before the Christmas weekend.

Republicans, who have the majority in Congress, are expected to offer another stopgap measure at that time that would keep the government running into January. Leaders hope by that time they will have a broader deal for the remainder of fiscal 2018.

"We hope we can come to an agreement," Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., said at the White House. "Funding the government is extremely important. Helping our soldiers is very important and helping average citizens is very important. So we're here in the spirit of let's get it done."

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