House approves GOP stopgap budget, as Senate leaders near overall spending deal

Facing the threat of a government shutdown on Thursday night, the House voted along party lines Tuesday evening to approve a six week extension of funding for most federal agencies, while Senate leaders worked behind closed doors to come up with a broader deal to increase spending for the military and non-defense programs.

The GOP plan included full funding for the Pentagon, along with dozens of health care provisions that had backing in both parties.

“I find it so curious that there would be opposition to funding our military,” said Rep. Marsha Blackwell (R-TN), as the two parties duked it out over spending yet again on the floor of the House.

“Here we are again, left with this ludicrous approach of funding the U.S. Government month to month,” said Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL).

“This is our fifth short term spending bill since September,” said Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT). “This is pure incompetence.”

The vote was 245 to 182 for the plan. The bill now goes to the Senate.

While the two parties slugged it out in the House, top Senators in both parties were more optimistic that a deal was near on overall spending limits, which would funnel billions more into military and non-defense spending in 2018 and beyond.

“I think we’re on the way to getting an agreement and getting it very soon,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

“We’re making real progress on a spending deal,” Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer told reporters.

That type of deal seemed likely to boost overall spending – maybe by as much as $143 billion this year, as Democrats have said if the Pentagon gets more, then non-defense programs should as well.

Unlike the last shutdown battle, there was little talk of any deal on immigration, involving the future of 1.8 million illegal immigrant “Dreamers” – instead, the Senate seemed to be on the verge of starting a wide open immigration debate next week on the Senate floor.

“Whoever gets to 60 wins,” Sen. McConnell said, as Senators were struggling to put together a compromise immigration bill that could be accepted by both parties, the President, and overcome any filibuster in the Senate.

Meanwhile at the White House, President Trump threw a curve ball at Congress, when he threatened to force a government shutdown if Democrats did not agree to his proposals on a DACA/immigration deal.

Not long after that, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said a shutdown was not the President’s goal – though it’s clear that Mr. Trump won’t accept just anything from Congress related to DACA.

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