Congress government funding fight seen
spilling into 2018
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[November 29, 2017]
By Richard Cowan
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Congress is likely
to miss a Dec. 8 deadline for passing legislation funding a wide range
of federal government programs through Sept. 30, 2018, kicking the
contentious debate into next year, a senior U.S. House of
Representatives aide said on Tuesday.
With Republican and Democratic leaders in Congress still haggling over
the overall level of spending for the fiscal year that began last Oct.
1, stop-gap appropriations will be needed to avert a partial government
shutdown on Dec. 8 when existing funds expire, according to the aide who
asked not to be identified.
The temporary funding legislation could extend at least until late
Failure to pass a longer-term appropriations bill before Congress breaks
for Christmas sometime next month would be a setback in President Donald
Trump's drive to pump up military spending in the current fiscal year,
which already is nearly two months old.
Democrats are insisting that any Pentagon spending increase be coupled
with more money for an array of non-defense programs, which also have
been cut or frozen under Republican austerity measures.
Without an agreement on the overall amount of spending, congressional
appropriators are stymied in their ability to write a spending bill for
the rest of fiscal 2018.
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The U.S. Capitol Building is lit at sunset in Washington, U.S.,
December 20, 2016. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Earlier on Tuesday, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, a member of
the Senate Appropriations Committee, cast some doubt on Congress'
ability to pass legislation funding the government through next
September, telling reporters "there probably will be a continuing
resolution," meaning a stop-gap spending bill in December.
Congress' top four Republican and Democratic leaders were scheduled
to meet Trump at the White House earlier on Tuesday to discuss
government funding, tax legislation and other end-of-year measures.
But the Senate and House of Representatives Democratic leaders,
Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi, stayed away after Trump attacked
them in a tweet as being weak on illegal immigration and driven to
raise taxes. "I don't see a deal!" Trump declared.
Schumer and Pelosi instead said they would continue their direct
talks with Republican counterparts in Congress.
(Reporting By Richard Cowan; editing by Tom Brown)
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