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Religion Today Blog Christian Blog and Commentary

Congress Delays Government Shutdown

  • Evan Wilt
    Religious persecution, missions, Christianity around the world
  • 2017 Apr 28
  • Comments

Lawmakers voted April 28 to avoid a government shutdown and prolong negotiations on a spending package for one more week.

The seven-day stopgap measure gives Congress until May 5 to settle on a spending bill to fund the government through the rest of the fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30. Lawmakers struggled to agree this week on  more than $1 trillion in discretionary spending and decided to pass a continuing resolution to delay their deadline instead of risking a government shutdown neither party favored.

The White House complicated efforts early on when President Donald Trump told Republicans they needed to find a way to allocate funding for a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border. But as the deadline grew closer, Trump backed down and lawmakers tabled conversations on wall funding to ensure needed Democratic votes. Party leaders on both sides claim they are close to a deal on spending and say Friday’s vote gave them a much-needed extension, but serious disagreements remain.

“This continuing resolution will continue to keep the government open and operating as normal for the next several days,” said House Appropriations Chairman Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-N.J. “I am optimistic that a final funding package will be completed soon. It is time that this essential work is completed so that critical programs and activities—including national defense—are properly and adequately funded for the year.”

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., told reporters today his staff was up until 1 a.m. trying to strip the spending bill of what he called Republican “poison pills.”

Democrats first worried the GOP would follow orders from Trump and push for border wall funding, but then feared Republicans might try to slip in other last minute items such as stripping money from environmental and labor programs and weakening the Dodd-Frank Act.

“Not all the poison pill riders have been eliminated, some have. A good number have,” Schumer said. “We’re willing to extend things for a little bit more time in hopes that the same kind of progress can continue to be made, but we still have a little bit of a ways to go.”

Trump criticized Democrats on Twitter on Thursday.

“I promise to rebuild our military and secure our border. Democrats want to shut down the government. Politics!” he wrote.

Meanwhile, GOP leaders are gearing up to schedule a vote on a revised healthcare package as soon as possible. After the new bill got an endorsement from a bloc of House conservatives on Tuesday, some speculated House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., could call for a vote this week, even amid fierce spending negotiations.

But Republican leaders could not guarantee enough votes from within the conference with many moderates still on the fence. Late Thursday, they decided not to have a vote on healthcare until next week at the earliest.

Democrats threatened to withdraw support from the continuing resolution and risk a government shutdown if Republicans forced a vote to gut Obamacare. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., deflected criticism for the tactic, saying responsibly belongs to the GOP.

“We are never going to shut government down. In fact, we don't even have the power to do so,” Pelosi said. “[Republicans] have the majority. They have the president. They have the Senate. They have the House. Any shutting down of government, the ball is in their court.”

As of Friday afternoon, Ryan plans to unveil the omnibus bill to fund the government for the next five months no later than Monday evening. This will give lawmakers at least 72 hours to debate and revise the bill and pass a spending package on Thursday before the next deadline.

 

Courtesy: WORLD News Service

Photo courtesy: Religion News Service

Publication date: April 28, 2017