Congress passes stopgap spending bill

Cheryl Sanders
May 3, 2017

But on President Donald Trump's 99th day in office, lawmakers were leaving until next week without completing two other measures he's coveted: A Republican health care overhaul and a budget financing government for the entire year.

The Senate approved the one-week continuing resolution by voice vote after the House of Representatives passed the stopgap bill by 382-30.

The measure would give Republican and Democratic lawmakers an additional week to work out differences on about US$1 trillion (S$1.4 trillion) in funding for the government through Sept 30, the end of the current fiscal year.

House leaders brought the bill to the floor last month after Trump demanded a vote, but yanked it after a rebellion by Republican moderates and the party's most conservative lawmakers, in a major setback for Trump.

President Trump tweeted his frustration at the Democrats, saying: "As families prepare for summer vacations in our National Parks - Democrats threaten to close them and shut down the government".

"We're willing to extend things for a little bit more time, in hopes that the same kind of progress can continue to be made", Schumer told reporters.

Minority Democrats had threatened to withhold support for the temporary spending bill unless there was a bipartisan deal on the long-term $1 trillion measure.

Still, there are many contentious issues that Congress must resolve, including the expiration of a federal health care program for retired miners, money for border security (but not the wall), visas for Afghans who assisted the USA military, money for Puerto Rico, and military spending.

Republicans still pressed for policy wins with so-called riders related to abortion, environmental regulations, and curbing new financial rules.

"The reason for the plan negotiated between the Republicans and Democrats is that we need 60 votes in the Senate which are not there!"

The Senate quickly approved the House's continuing resolution - or "CR" in Washington-speak.

The House won't vote on Republican legislation scuttling much of President Barack Obama's health care law until at least next week, a GOP leader said Thursday.

The end of the frenzied week on Capitol Hill underscores the trouble Republicans have had fulfilling both the most basic functions of governance and implementing their ambitious agenda with GOP control of both the White House and Congress. That puts party elders in an uncomfortable spot because if 22 Republicans defect, the bill will fail, assuming all Democrats oppose it.

While the White House was eager for a vote this week, Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., wants to avoid an encore of last month's embarrassment on the bill. " They could also be exempted from Obama's mandate that insurers cover a list of services like maternity care, and from its bar against charging older customers more than triple their rates for younger ones".

Separately, House GOP leaders were moving to kill a provision in their revised health care bill that allows members of Congress and their staffs to continue their Obamacare coverage while allowing states to opt out, according to a Politico report.

The Freedom Caucus was won over by an amendment allowing states to obtain waivers from certain insurance requirements of the health care law.

Republicans' first attempt to pass repeal legislation drew fierce criticism from moderates and conservatives.

Other reports by iNewsToday