Published: Mon, February 12, 2018
World | By Melba Underwood

House passes bill that would avert shutdown

House passes bill that would avert shutdown

"But the agreement delivers important victories for OH, from funding community health centers and children's healthcare, to boosting the fight against opioids and creating a special committee to solve the pension crisis".

A short government shutdown is assured as the Senate has recessed until just after a Thursday midnight deadline to pass a temporary funding bill. The bill's funding for the rest of the government would expire next month. Only 73 Democrats voted for the bill; 67 Republicans voted against it. Under budget caps set in 2011, defense spending would have been capped at $549 billion this year.

Leaders in the Senate had hoped the bipartisan package, which covers the remainder of this fiscal year and next, would end what has been a series of stopgap measures and shutdown threats, including the three-day disruption in January.

Still, Democrats protested that the bill doesn't include a solution for America's so-called "Dreamers" - the illegal immigrants brought here when they were young.

The deal reached this week was meant to draw support from all sides. The agreement would bolster community healthcare grants, while extending funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) by four years until 2027. It contains $80 billion in disaster relief for Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Texas and Florida.

It also extends the US government's borrowing authority until March 2019, sparing Washington politicians hard votes on debt and deficits until after mid-term congressional elections in November. "Republicans and Democrats must support our troops and support this Bill!"

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan did not have enough votes for passage from his GOP majority, as conservatives, including the Freedom Caucus, rejected the deficit spending, leaving him dependent on dozens of Democrats for support.

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi and others in her party had opposed Friday's bill because Republican House leaders would not guarantee her a debate later on bipartisan steps to protect about 700,000 "Dreamer" immigrants from deportation.

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What House Democrats won't get: A commitment from Ryan to hold a similar floor process to what McConnell has committed to across the Capitol. Trump is ending the program.

"The main thing is we are finally getting what we call the 'fit up bill, ' which is getting the military a budget, number one, but getting the budget they need to actually fulfill their national defense strategy that [Defense] Secretary [James] Mattis just recently gave out", Ryan said.

"We'll see. If they want to stay up until 3 a.m., I'm happy to do it for the fiscal solvency", he said.

After previous government shutdowns, Congress passed measures to ensure that all unpaid workers received retroactive pay.

Non-defense: Increase non-defense spending by $63 billion this year and $68 billion in fiscal 2019, including $20 billion for infrastructure, $6 billion to fight the opioid epidemic and fund mental health programs, $5.8 billion for the Child Care Development Block Grant program, $4 billion for the VA and $2 billion for the NIH. The legislation that provides these funds must be passed by a certain deadline.

Portman has been a leader in the Senate advocating for additional funding and more tools to combat this epidemic.

A McConnell lieutenant, Senator John Cornyn, took the floor late Thursday, and in a tense exchange with Paul asked for consent to move the vote up to 10:30 pm, then 11:00, 11:30 and midnight, in an last-ditch effort to avoid or at least minimize the shutdown. Last year, Trump said that the country could use a "good shutdown".

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