Hoping to avoid a government shutdown at midnight Friday, congressional leaders introduced stopgap legislation that would give them another week to negotiate a longer-term spending bill.
A vote on the legislation could come as early as Thursday, USA Today reported after House Appropriations Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.) and Senate Appropriations Chairman Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) unveiled the bill late Wednesday.
“This Continuing Resolution will continue to keep the government open and operating as normal for the next several days, in order to finalize legislation to fund the federal government for the rest of the fiscal year,” Frelinghuysen said in a statement. “I am optimistic that a final funding package will be completed soon.”
Federal programs would continue to be funded at existing levels under the stopgap measure, which followed unsuccessful efforts to pass a bill this week to fund the government through Sept. 30.
“Congressional leaders and the White House want to avoid a politically unpopular shutdown, which would have closed national parks and monuments, furloughed thousands of federal employees, and delayed Americans’ tax refunds,” USA Today noted.
Democrats involved in the negotiations have balked at President Trump’s demand that the spending bill include money for a border wall and his threat to withhold federal subsidies owed to health insurance companies under the Affordable Care Act.
“While we agreed to go ahead and make the … payments for now, we haven’t made a final decision about future commitments,” a White House official told Reuters.
House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said in a statement Wednesday that negotiators had made progress on both the border wall and ACA issues. But she added that “More progress needs to be made on some of our priorities, and we continue to be concerned about poison-pill riders that are still in this legislation.”
According to Sen. Cochran, negotiators have “made substantial progress on an agreement to complete the 2017 appropriations process.” Referring to the stopgap measure, he urged lawmakers to “make good use of this extra time to enact overdue legislation to provide for national defense and meet our country’s needs.”