Gov't shutdown, health bill rescue at stake in Congress


WASHINGTON (AP) — Bipartisan bargainers are making progress toward a budget deal to prevent a partial federal shutdown this weekend, a major hurdle overcome when President Donald Trump signaled he would put off his demand the measure include money to build his border wall with Mexico.

Republicans are also vetting proposed changes to their beleaguered health care bill they hope will attract enough votes to finally push it through the House.

Both efforts come with Congress back from a two-week break just days before Trump's 100th day in office, an unofficial measuring stick of a new president's effectiveness. With little to show in legislative victories so far, the Trump administration would love to claim achievements on Capitol Hill by that day – this Saturday.

The same day, federal agencies would have to close unless lawmakers pass a $1 trillion spending bill financing them or legislation keeping them open temporarily while talks continue. Republicans hope to avoid the ignominy of a government shutdown while their party controls Congress and the White House.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer said Monday that administration negotiators, including Trump's budget chief, Mick Mulvaney, "feel very confident" a shutdown won't occur.

Democrats, whose votes are needed to pass the budget measure, had a less charitable version of negotiations. In a conference call with reporters aimed at criticizing Trump's first 100 days as ineffective, party leaders said the biggest shutdown threat was from Trump's demand the spending bill include funds for the barricade along the Mexican border.

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