House Republicans passed a stopgap spending bill Thursday to ward off a government shutdown Friday. But GOP leaders on both sides of the Capitol face a turbulent next few weeks as they try to clinch a broader budget deal with Democrats by the end of the year.
The measure passed the House 235-193, after GOP leaders overcame conservative objections that threatened to tank the measure. The Senate is expected to follow suit quickly on the bill, which keeps the federal government open through Dec. 22.
But the biggest hurdles have yet to come. Republicans know they need Democrats to pass any broader spending agreement to fund the government through 2018, and Democrats are flexing their muscles and making significant policy demands for their votes. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi reiterated in a press conference Thursday that she wants deportation relief for Dreamers as part of the negotiations.
“We will not leave here without a DACA fix,” the California Democrat said.
President Donald Trump met with the “Big Four” congressional leaders — Speaker Paul Ryan, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer — at the White House on Thursday afternoon in a bid to jump-start negotiations over a two-year budget deal.
The shutdown dance comes as Republican leaders and the White House are pushing to finish work on a trillion-dollar-plus tax cut plan being hashed out by House and Senate tax writers. Ryan and McConnell are hoping to buy enough time in the budget talks to complete work on the tax bill, all while mollifying their defense hawks and conservative hard-liners in the House Freedom Caucus. And that’s to say nothing of Democratic demands for a deal to help hundreds of thousands of Dreamers who face possible deportation next year, as well as a host of other controversial policy issues.
A budget agreement, which would raise spending levels for both defense and non-defense spending, has eluded Congress and the White House so far, as the two parties are far apart on a number of policy issues, including the overall funding targets. Democrats want parity for any defense and non-defense spending boost, while Republicans want to see the Pentagon get the bulk of any spending increase. The fate of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program protecting young undocumented immigrants is also a key question. Staff-level talks have yielded progress on a number of areas, yet sources involved in the discussions say it’s now time for the principals — Trump and the party leaders — to find out whether they can reach a compromise.