US shutdown: Politicians work to agree stopgap funding deal | 2018-01-20 |

US shutdown: Politicians work to agree stopgap funding deal

Sun Online Desk     20th January, 2018 09:30:29 printer

US shutdown: Politicians work to agree stopgap funding deal


Last-ditch efforts are being made in Washington to prevent a shutdown of the US government.


With a Senate vote due shortly before the Friday midnight deadline, Republicans leaders are struggling to gather support to pass a budget bill.


The House of Representatives voted 230-197 on Thursday night to extend funding until next month.


President Donald Trump has called off a trip to his Florida golf club this weekend until a deal can be struck.


He invited Democratic Senate leader Chuck Schumer, a fellow New Yorker, to the White House for last-ditch talks.


Emerging about an hour later, Mr Schumer told reporters "some progress" had been made, but a "good number of disagreements" remained, including a difference in opinion regarding the Democrats' desire to extend talks for another five days.


Instead, the president encouraged a four-week extension of federal funding but tweeted that the preliminary meeting was "excellent" and that they were "making progress".


However, a few hours later he sounded more pessimistic, tweeting that it was "not looking good for our great Military or Safety & Security on the very dangerous Southern Border".


This would be the fourth short-term budget measure to squeeze through a gridlocked Congress since the fiscal year began in October.


Federal agencies are funded through annual budget appropriations bills.


But at the moment Capitol Hill is too engulfed by rancour over how the cash should be spent to agree a longer-term package.


This current bill would only keep the government funded until 16 February - so the whole drama may be replayed in the coming weeks, reports BBC.




Right now, no - the budget package doesn't have the 60 required votes.


Republicans only have 51 seats in the 100-member chamber.


But with hours to go until funding expires, there are a maximum of 47 Republicans in favour. Despite conservative pleas for unity so they can blame any shutdown on Democrats, three Republican senators are leaning 'no'.


Lindsey Graham, of South Carolina, says he is opposed because he wants more military spending and an immigration deal. Rand Paul, of Kentucky, is citing concerns about the federal debt. And Jeff Flake, of Arizona, said on Thursday night he was not "inclined" to vote for the short-term bill.


He is backing a Democratic plan to approve enough federal funds for a few more days to allow both sides to negotiate a longer-term fix.


So to get through, the bill would need a dozen Democrats, out of 49.


But only three Democrats - Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Joe Donnelly of Indiana and Doug Jones of Alabama - have so far said that they are leaning in favour.


The main bone of contention has been Democrats' demands for more than 700,000 undocumented immigrants who entered the US as children to be protected from deportation.


These "Dreamers", as they are known, were granted temporary legal status under a programme established by former President Barack Obama.


In September, Mr Trump announced he was ending the programme and allowing Congress until March to come up with a replacement.


The Republican president and congressional conservatives have been using the issue as a bargaining chip in an attempt to wring concessions from Democrats.


Mr Trump wants funding for tough new border controls, including his proposed US-Mexico wall.


Republicans have added to the bill a sweetener in the form of a six-year extension to a health insurance programme for children in lower-income families.


They are essentially daring Democrats to vote against a measure that has been a longstanding liberal priority.


But Democrats say they want this programme extended permanently, reports BBC.