| WASHINGTON, April 28
WASHINGTON, April 28 The U.S. House of
Representatives began debate on Friday on short-term legislation
to avert a government shutdown at midnight and buy some time on
reaching a deal on federal spending through Sept. 30.
If the measure passes the House, as expected, the Senate
would be prepared to take up the bill immediately in the hopes
of approving and sending it to President Donald Trump to sign
The bill under consideration in the Republican-led Congress
would provide federal funding until May 5, allowing lawmakers to
hammer out legislation over the next few days to keep the
government funded for the rest of the fiscal year on Sept. 30.
Congress has been tied in knots over $1 trillion in spending
priorities for months. Lawmakers were supposed to have taken
care of the current fiscal year appropriations bills by last
Lawmakers' frustration at their inability to take care of
the basic functions of government in a timely manner was on
display on the House floor as debate opened.
"Let's make sure these basics are done for the American
people and then let's get about the important business of
changing their tax code and making sure they have the best
healthcare in the world," said Republican Representative Tom
Cole of Oklahoma.
In addition to opposition from Democrats, there are deep
divisions among Republicans over exactly how to change the tax
code and overhaul the U.S. healthcare system.
The action on the spending bill comes a day after House
Republican leaders again put on hold a possible vote on major
healthcare legislation sought by Trump to dismantle the 2010
Affordable Care Act, dubbed Obamacare, after moderates in the
party balked at provisions added to entice hardline
The government was last forced to close in October 2013,
when Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and some of the most
conservative House Republicans engineered a 17-day shutdown in
an unsuccessful quest to kill former Democratic President Barack
Obama's healthcare law.
RUN OUT OF MONEY
Trump, a Republican, bowed to Democratic demands that the
spending bill not include money to start building a wall along
the U.S.-Mexico border he said is needed to fight illegal
immigration and stop drug smugglers.
The Trump administration also agreed to continue funding for
a major component of Obamacare despite Republican vows to end
Without the extension or a longer-term funding bill, federal
agencies will run out of money by midnight Friday, likely
triggering abrupt layoffs of hundreds of thousands of federal
government workers until funding resumes.
A federal closure would shutter National Park Service
destinations like the Statue of Liberty, Yellowstone and the
Grand Canyon. Government medical research would be suspended.
Thousands of federal workers would be furloughed with
thousands more working without pay until the shutdown ends,
including homeland security personnel. Some veterans benefits
could be suspended.
In the bigger spending bill to be negotiated in the coming
days, it remained unclear whether Republicans would prevail in
their effort to sharply boost defense spending without similar
increases for other domestic programs. Trump has proposed a $30
billion spending hike for the Pentagon for the rest of this
House and Senate negotiators also have been struggling over
funding to make a healthcare program for coal miners permanent
and whether to plug a gap in Puerto Rico's Medicaid program, the
government health insurance program for the poor.
(Additional reporting by Amanda Becker and Susan Cornwell;
Writing by Will Dunham; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)