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Top lawmakers offer stop-gap to avert US government shutdown

Congress has struggled to meet a midnight Friday deadline to strike a final deal on funding through September 30, the end of the fiscal year.

Published: 27th April 2017 08:32 PM  |   Last Updated: 27th April 2017 08:32 PM   |  A+A-

By AFP

WASHINGTON:  US congressional leaders have introduced a stop-gap spending measure that funds federal operations through the next week, easing the threat of a government shutdown as Donald Trump marks his 100th day as president.

Congress has struggled to meet a midnight Friday deadline to strike a final deal on funding through September 30, the end of the fiscal year. 

But House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen said he was "optimistic that a final funding package will be completed soon."

"This continuing resolution will continue to keep the government open and operating as normal for the next several days, in order to finalize legislation to fund the federal government for the rest of the fiscal year," Frelinghuysen said in a statement late Wednesday.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Thad Cochran, citing "substantial progress," said the stop-gap bill that funds the government through May 5 will be considered by the House and Senate this week before the current funding expires.

Democrats and Republicans have squared off in debates over priorities that the White House had wanted included in the new spending bill, such as funding for a border wall and increased defense spending, as well as Democrats' demand to maintain cost-sharing arrangements that reduce health insurance costs for low-income Americans.

Trump, eager to avoid the lousy optics of a budget clash at his 100-day mark, which falls on Saturday, has retreated from a demand to fund a wall on the southern US border with Mexico.

But lawmakers have said the bill is expected to include funding for broader border security measures, such as the use of drones or anti-tunnelling technology.

Negotiations were ongoing on other elements, although US media reported that late Wednesday, with two days before a government shutdown, Trump eased his threat to withhold health subsidies paid to insurance companies under Obamacare so that premiums do not rise for low-income policyholders.



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