House passes stopgap spending bill to avert weekend shutdown

Thursday, December 7, 2017

WASHINGTON (AP) — The House today passed a stopgap spending bill to prevent a government shutdown this weekend and buy time for challenging talks on a wide range of unfinished business on Capitol Hill.

The measure passed mostly along party lines, 235-193, and would keep the government running through Dec. 22. The Senate began a vote to send the measure to President Donald Trump.

The vote came as Trump and top congressional leaders in both parties huddled to discuss a range of unfinished bipartisan business on Capitol Hill, including the budget, a key children's health program and aid to hurricane-slammed Puerto Rico, Texas and Florida – and, for Democrats and many Republicans, protections for immigrants brought to the country illegally as children.

In back-to-back statements, both sides declared the meeting "productive."

"We had a productive conversation on a wide variety of issues. Nothing specific has been agreed to, but discussions continue," said Capitol Hill's top Democrats, Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York and Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California, ticking off a roster of Democratic priorities, including domestic-spending increases, funding for veterans and money to battle opioid abuse, immigration and health care.

GOP leaders promised help for immigrants known as Dreamers by their supporters, many of whom have only known America as their home.

Spokesmen for House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said GOP leaders "stressed the need to address border security, interior enforcement and other parts of our broken immigration system," adding that the tricky immigration issue "should be a separate process and not used to hold hostage funding for our men and women in uniform."

Negotiations are sure to be tricky. Pelosi staked out a hard line today and insisted that any year-end deal solve the immigration issue.