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story.lead_photo.caption Budget Director Mick Mulvaney arrives on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 18, 2018. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

WASHINGTON -- The House on Thursday night passed a GOP-written stopgap spending bill to keep the government open past tonight, but Senate Democrats appeared ready to block the measure.

Lawmakers voted by a near party-line 230-197 vote to approve the legislation, which would keep agency doors open and hundreds of thousands of federal employees at work through Feb. 16. The measure is designed to give White House and congressional bargainers more time to work through disputes on immigration and the budget that they've tangled over for months.

House passage was assured after the House Freedom Caucus reached an accord with House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis. The leader of the far-right group, Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., said Ryan promised future votes on extra defense spending and on a conservative, restrictive immigration bill. Meadows also spoke to President Donald Trump.

Just 11 Republicans, mostly conservatives and a pair of moderate Hispanic lawmakers, opposed the measure. Six Democrats, a mix of Hispanic and moderate legislators, backed the bill. Arkansas' four lawmakers, all Republicans, voted for the measure.

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But most Senate Democrats and some Republicans were expected to vote against it in that chamber, likely today. Democrats were hoping to spur slow-moving immigration talks, while a handful of Republicans, including Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., were pressing for swifter action on immigration and a long-sought boost in Pentagon spending.

The GOP controls the Senate 51-49 and will need a substantial number of Democratic votes to reach 60 -- the number of votes needed to end Democratic delaying tactics. Some Republicans were all but daring Democrats to scuttle the bill and force a shutdown because of immigration, which they said would hurt Democratic senators seeking re-election in 10 states that Trump carried in 2016.

"If there's a government shutdown -- and let's hope there's not -- it'd be the Democrats shutting it down," said Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala.

Democrats said voters would fault Republicans because they control Congress and the White House and because Trump shot down a proposed bipartisan deal among a handful of senators that would have resolved the conflict over how to protect from deportation hundreds of thousands of young illegal aliens who were brought to the U.S. as children.

"You have the leverage. Get this done," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California said about Republicans.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., accused Democrats of a "fixation on illegal immigration," which he said "has them threatening to filibuster spending for the whole government."

But Sen. Charles Schumer, the Senate minority leader who has tried using opposition to the bill as leverage to prod immigration negotiations, called for a plan to finance government for just a few days and said party leaders should try to quickly reach an agreement.

He said that should be done with or without Trump, who initially expressed support for a bipartisan effort to address the issue only to oppose one proposed by several senators.

"How can you negotiate with the president, who has to sign the legislation, is like a sphinx on this issue, or says one thing one day and one thing the next?" Schumer asked.

The weeks-old standoff on immigration and spending only grew more charged last week after Trump referred to African nations as "s***hole countries" in the meeting in which he rejected the bipartisan spending plan. By Thursday, budget negotiations were making little progress even as prominent House Democrats were introducing a resolution to censure the president for his words.

Trump weighed in later Thursday from Pennsylvania, where he was promoting last year's tax overhaul and helping a GOP candidate in a special congressional election.

"I really believe the Democrats want a shutdown to get off the subject of the tax cuts because they're doing so well," he said.


If the stopgap measure stalls in the Senate, the next steps are murky.

Barring a last-minute pact between the two parties on spending and immigration disputes that have raged for months, lawmakers like Schumer said a measure financing agencies for just several days was possible to build pressure on negotiators to craft a deal. Also conceivable is lawmakers working over the weekend with a shutdown underway -- watched by a public that has demonstrated it has abhorred such standoffs in the past.

While the GOP controls both chambers of Congress and the White House, Democrats are using the must-pass bill to try to force other policy concessions. It's not clear who would take most of the political blame for a shutdown, and the stakes are high ahead of November's midterm elections.

Trump's poor popularity in polls and a string of Democratic special election victories have fueled Democratic hopes of capturing control of the House and perhaps the Senate in November.

The bill the House passed would fund the government for four weeks, extend the Children's Health Insurance Program for six years and delay implementation of three taxes imposed by the Obama-era Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

But hours before the vote, Trump said a long-term extension of the children's health care program should not be part of a stopgap spending bill pending before the House.

He wrote on Twitter: "CHIP should be part of a long term solution, not a 30 Day, or short term, extension!"

Republican leaders had spent Wednesday pressuring Democrats to vote for the spending bill, arguing that opposing it would effectively block a six-year extension of the children's health program, attached to the spending bill as a sweetener for lawmakers in both parties. The children's health program serves nearly 9 million low-income children, and some states have come close to exhausting their funds for that program.

Ryan said Wednesday that it would be "unconscionable" for Democrats to oppose funding for the children's health care program with a "no" vote on the short-term spending bill.

Hours after Trump's tweet, the White House tried to walk it back. A White House spokesman, Raj Shah, said the president supports the House's stopgap bill.

Pelosi made clear that she was unmoved by the inclusion of Children's Health Insurance Program funding in the stopgap bill.

"This is like giving you a bowl of doggy doo, put a cherry on top and call it a chocolate sundae," she said before the vote.

Congress must act by midnight today or the government will begin immediately locking its doors. Though the impact would initially be spotty -- since most agencies would be closed until Monday -- the story would be certain to dominate weekend news coverage, and each party would be gambling that the public would blame the other party.

In the event of a shutdown, food inspections and other vital services would continue, as would Social Security, other federal benefit programs and most military operations.

The last shutdown occurred in 2013 when Republican lawmakers unsuccessfully tried to eliminate funding of then-President Barack Obama's signature legislative achievement, the Affordable Care Act. Republicans had the majority in the House, while Democrats held the Senate.

Information for this article was contributed by Alan Fram, Andrew Taylor, Jill Colvin, Marcy Gordon, Matthew Daly and Kevin Freking of The Associated Press; by Thomas Kaplan and Sheryl Gay Stolberg of The New York Times; and by Anna Edgerton, Laura Litvan, Erik Wasson and Sahil Kapur of Bloomberg News.

A Section on 01/19/2018

Print Headline: GOP-forged bill on funding gets through House

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  • RBear
    January 19, 2018 at 5:49 a.m.

    So you cut taxes on the wealthy only to want to spend more on defense and a useless wall. I’m okay with military spending provided it’s prioritized properly. The wall goes to the end of the priority line AFTER social programs and infrastructure. Guess where that leaves it. Unfunded. Biggest joke is why they cut taxes with a year of spending ahead. Totally ineffective at being in charge.

  • BoudinMan
    January 19, 2018 at 7:28 a.m.

    Don't forget, folks, the repubs control the House, the Senate, and the Oval Office. Yet, they cannot get this done.

  • Whippersnapper
    January 19, 2018 at 9:20 a.m.

    BoudinMan says... January 19, 2018 at 7:28 a.m.
    "Don't forget, folks, the repubs control the House, the Senate, and the Oval Office. Yet, they cannot get this done."
    Kind of like when the Democrats controlled the House, Senate (with a filibuster proof supermajority) and Presidency in 2009-2010 and couldn't even pass a budget?

  • Slak
    January 19, 2018 at 12:03 p.m.

    Naively, RR trusted the Dems to follow through with their promise to fix border security later in exchange for immediately converting millions of illegal immigrants into Democrat voters.
    Of course the duplicitous Dems were lying and today we see the result of that Democrat treachery. Dems are back at the table holding the entire US government hostage as they wangle to get millions more illegal immigrants transformed into Democrat voters.
    Trump didn't make that mistake. Secure in the knowledge that YOU CANNOT TRUST THE LYING DEMS, he refuses to fall for the same scam.
    Any American who believes that giving amnesty to illegal aliens without fixing border security is a good thing for America is a fool or a traitor. That approach is nothing more than a Democrat con game for endless rounds of ILLEGAL aliens being converted into Dem voters far into the future.

  • 23cal
    January 19, 2018 at 1:01 p.m.

    Donald Trump Sept. 23, 2013: "Here's the truth, the gov't doesn't shut down. All essential services continue. Don't believe lies"
    Donald Trump Jan. 19, 2018 "A government shutdown will be devastating to our military......something the Dems care very little about!"

    Here is what we learn from the clown prince of negotiation: when it is well and truly crunch time, when it is right down to the wire, to the very last minute, when it is a crucial deal, a must pass deal which has to go through.....then the best possible thing to do is to insult and alienate the people you are trying to strike a deal with and impugn their motives while being uncompromising and lying about what you will do.
    Last time there was a threatened government shutdown, Trump tweeted the following:
    “If there is a shutdown I think it would be a tremendously negative mark on the president of the United States. He's the one that has to get people together.”
    His cultists might investigate the phrase "Hoist on his own petard."
    What is Trump going to do to get this deal together other than getting on social media and demonizing the people with whom he is supposed to be working to get a deal together? Do you know what he was doing instead of working and sitting down with people and trying to hammer out a deal?
    I'll tell you: he was spending the night Tweeting out his fake Fake-News awards and planning this weekend's fund raiser and golf outing. Which is where he will undoubtedly be this weekend instead of making any effort whatsoever to resolve this.
    I say hold him to his perennial claim that Mexico would pay for his stupid wall. Shut things down until he shows us the money or backs off the wall.
    CHIP funding stopped back in September. That the Republicans who get to choose what gets dealt with have let it lapse this long so they could hold kids health hostage now is both unconscionable and despicable. Trump shut down a DACA program which was protecting the vulnerable and now wants to hold those kids hostage as well.
    Don't give in to such terrorists.

  • Whippersnapper
    January 19, 2018 at 3:11 p.m.

    “The basic line is: No matter how strongly one feels about an issue, you shouldn’t hold millions of people hostage. That’s what the other side is doing. That’s wrong and we can’t give in to that.” - Charles Schumer, September 2013
    “[Former House] Speaker [John] Boehner comes in and he says, basically, it’s sorta like this. Someone goes into your house, takes your wife and children hostage, and then says ‘Let’s negotiate over the price of your house.’ You know, we could do the same thing on immigration. We believe strongly in immigration reform. We could say, ‘We’re shutting down the government, we’re not gonna raise the debt ceiling, until you pass immigration reform.’ It would be governmental chaos.” - Charles Schumer, September 2013
    The truth is that Democrats claimed that it was irresponsible and immoral to shut down the government to push a policy back in 2013, and now they are doing just that. I never object to a government shutdown, because they tend to show how unimportant lots of it is in the lives of the average Americans.

  • wildblueyonder
    January 19, 2018 at 3:19 p.m.

    They need 60 votes and NO Democrat and a few Rinos don't want to vote on it. The mid-terms will sink the Democrat "party".