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US Congress votes to avert shutdown

Republicans want more money for defence in the budget. Democrats agree but want to increase social spending, revive federal subsidy in Obamacare, and guarantee protection for the Dreamers.

world Updated: Dec 08, 2017 22:02 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times, Washington
US government shutdown,US House of Representatives,US Senate
US President Donald Trump, alongside vice president Mike Pence (third from left), meets the Congressional leadership, including Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, and House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington on December 7, 2017. (AFP)

The US Congress moved swiftly on Thursday to pass a temporary spending bill that will keep the federal government running through the weekend and give leaders of the two parties and the White House more time to negotiate some thorny issues for a final legislation.

Working against a Friday midnight deadline, the House of Representatives passed the legislation 235-193 to keep the government funded till December 22, which gives two weeks for negotiations. The Senate passed it 81-14, and sent it the White House for President Donald Trump’s signature.

“We hope that we’re going to make some great progress for our country. I think that will happen,” Trump, who will sign the bill, said at a meeting with congressional leaders from both parties at the White House. The negotiations are expected to start on Friday, when the new short-term measure goes into effect.

Republicans want more money for defence in the budget. Democrats agree but want to increase social spending, revive federal subsidy in Obamacare, and guarantee protection for the 700,000 illegal immigrants brought to the US as children — called Dreamers — which Trump wants to withdraw.

“We have some important issues that we share with you,” Nancy Pelosi, the minority leader in the House of Representatives, said at the White House meeting.“You have described the opioid crisis in our country, and we want to address that, help our veterans, S-CHIP, children's health insurance, and, again, all things that have bipartisan support in the Congress.”

Negotiations will be anything but smooth. The White House said in a statement that Trump and the Republican leadership “stressed (at the meeting) that negotiations on immigration should be held separately on a different track, and not as part of the government funding bill”.

Trump “reiterated his priorities for ensuring any immigration package ends chain migration, constructs a border wall, and substantially strengthens immigration enforcement to stop illegal immigration and visa overstays”.

First Published: Dec 08, 2017 22:02 IST