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GOP deals with Dems to avoid government shutdown

U.S. Capitol (Photo: House.gov web page of Rep. John Katko, R-N.Y.)

U.S. Capitol (Photo: House.gov page of Rep. John Katko, R-N.Y.)

Faced with the threat of a politically damaging government shutdown, Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Thursday he expects the Senate to pass a short-term spending bill before Friday night’s deadline.

The measure would give Congress another week to hash out a long-term spending bill, McConnell explained from the floor of the Senate.

Absent any action, the government would partially shut down at midnight Friday.

The chances of passing a budget bill to cover the rest of fiscal year 2017 improved when the Trump administration indicated it would not press for funding this year of the border wall that became a signature promise of Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.

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But Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., warned Thursday that Democrats won’t support the short-term spending bill if House Republicans vote on a bill to repeal portions of Obamacare, the Washington Examiner reported.

Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

“If Republicans announce their intention to bring their harmful Trumpcare bill to the House floor tomorrow or Saturday, I will oppose a one-week Continuing Resolution and will advise House Democrats to oppose it as well,” said Hoyer.

The Democratic leaders said Republicans “continue to struggle to find the votes to pass a bill that will kick 24 million people off their health coverage, allow discrimination against those with pre-existing conditions and impose an age tax on older Americans.”

“That’s why they are trying to jam it through the House before their members can hear from the American people this weekend about their opposition to this horrible legislation,” Hoyer said.

Without a short-term spending bill, which will keep the government open through May 5 as negotiations continue, the government would partially shut down.

During a partial government shutdown — which officially has happened 18 times since the current budget process began in 1976 — only “essential” services continue to operating, including the military, air traffic control and federal prisons. Usually, Social Security and other benefit payments also continue.

House Speaker Paul Ryan said he was “confident” a short-term extension will be passed.

“I’d be kinda shocked if the Democrats would want to create a government shutdown because they have been dragging their feet,” Ryan said.

 

President Trump, in a series of tweets Thursday, blamed Democrats for holding up a budget deal.

Trump tweeted: “The Democrats want to shut government if we don’t bail out Puerto Rico and give billions to their insurance companies for OCare failure. NO!”

Democrats want to bail out Puerto Rico and cover a Medicaid shortfall amid a multi-billion dollar debt crisis.

The president already has made concessions to the Democrats. Along with agreeing not to fund the wall, the administration will continue paying the controversial Obamacare payments to insurers to subsidize lower-income subscribers.

Trump had threatened earlier this month to withhold the the cost-sharing reductions, or CSRs, to force Democrats to negotiate on health-care reform.

“Our major concerns in these negotiations have been about funding for the wall and uncertainty about the CSR payments crucial to the stability of the marketplaces under the Affordable Care Act,” Pelosi said. “We’ve now made progress on both of these fronts.”

The Republican leadership needs 217 votes to pass its American Health Care Act, which was pulled last month amid opposition from the conservative House Freedom Caucus and moderates in the Tuesday Group caucus.

Changes have been made that now satisfied the House Freedom Caucus, but some centrist Republicans don’t like the changes. A vote on the bill has not been scheduled, and the Examiner said it’s increasingly unlikely there will be one this week.

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