Bill to avert shutdown for 1 week clears House

Andrew Cummings
May 1, 2017

A new stopgap to ensure continued government funding is headed to the White House, where President Donald Trump has indicated he will quickly sign the measure into law to avoid any cutoff in funds at midnight tonight.

U.S. Congress on Friday approved a stopgap funding bill to avert government shutdown and leave lawmakers another week to work out spending details through September 30.

The Senate sent the measure to Trump for his signature by voice vote after the House approved it easily on a 382-30 vote.

Congressional negotiators also have been struggling over funding to make a healthcare program for coal miners permanent and whether to plug a gap in Puerto Rico's Medicaid program, the government health insurance program for the poor.

The bipartisan budget talks had progressed smoothly after the White House dropped a threat to withhold payments that help lower-income Americans pay their medical bills and Trump abandoned a demand for money for a border wall with Mexico.

"As your president, I will never, ever infringe on the right of the people to keep and bear arms", said President Trump. Had Republicans taken the vote, Democrats promised to oppose any spending bill put in front of them on the table. Republicans may control both houses of Congress and the presidency, but passing the short-term spending bill requires 60 votes in the Senate and Republicans only have 52, which has given Democrats leverage in the negotiations. That's what's happening now as the Republican Congress and the White House are swallowing a loss on the promise to repeal and replace Obamacare in the first 100 days of the new administration.

Democrats say there are still unresolved disputes over a few items, particularly language Republicans want to include that would scrap a regulation requiring retirement-investment counselors to act in their clients' best interests, and perhaps a fight over defense-spending levels. "This Congress is going to be the busiest Congress we've had in decades, maybe ever", Trump predicted shortly after taking office.

After the original effort failed to win enough support from conservatives and moderates, Republicans recast the bill.

"I would love to have had the vote in the first 100 days", said Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus.

Skepticism from Upton and other Republican moderates led GOP leaders to abandon an effort to hold a vote on the bill this week.

"I'll go back to the premise that Ryan has, and that is if they have the votes, they'll move it".

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) last month pulled the AHCA after learning that it did not have sufficient support to pass. The latest version would let states escape a requirement under Obama's 2010 law that insurers charge healthy and seriously ill customers the same rates. They have also been venturing into traditional red communities in more rural parts of the commonwealth to promote their candidates for statewide office.

The bill gives lawmakers a much-needed extra week to craft a federal budget.

"Republicans have not accomplished very much in the first 100 days", said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of NY.

With neither party savoring a federal shutdown, it seemed likely Congress would approve the week-long stopgap measure in time to keep agencies open.

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