Lawmakers Seeking Short-Term Deal to Keep Government Open

WASHINGTON (CN) – Still at an impasse on a government funding agreement and facing a Friday deadline to approve one, Congress is eyeing a short term deal to keep the government open while negotiators bring the final measure together.

The short-term spending bill, known as a continuing resolution, would fund the government at current levels through May 5, pushing back by a week the deadline to provide federal agencies the money necessary to avert a government shutdown. House Appropriations Chairman Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen introduced the measure on Wednesday night.

“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 complete soon. It is time that this essential work is completed so that critical programs and activities – including national defense – are properly and adequately funding for the year.”

Congressional negotiators are slowly moving forward on an agreement that would fund the government through the end of September but have struggled to move beyond several partisan sticking points.

Still, leadership in the House and Senate appears confident that a deal will get done, even if a short-term stopgap is necessary to buy a few more days to negotiate.

The deal cleared a major hurdle earlier this week when the Trump administration dropped a demand that Congress include funding for a wall across the southern border in the agreement. But some disagreements remained, as Democrats sought to protect healthcare subsidies that Republicans had threatened to withhold from the bill.

But that point appears ready to fall as well, as the White House reportedly has given in on that in the same way it did for the border wall.

“It is good that once again the president seems to be backing off his threat to hold health care and government funding hostage,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer  said in a statement Wednesday afternoon. “These payments are essential to ensuring that millions of Americans won’t see their premiums skyrocket and they won’t be kicked off their plan. Like the withdrawal of money for the wall, this decision brings us closer to fund the government and is good news for the American people.”

Still, Schumer said there are “outstanding issues” that are blocking a final resolution, showing why Congress will likely need to take up a short-term deal before the end of the week.

 

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