House passes spending bill, first step in avoiding government shutdown

  • The House of Representatives narrowly passes a stop-gap spending measure to continue funding the federal government for two weeks.
  • The bill maintains current federal spending levels and includes funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program.
  • Passing the short-term measure clears the way for more contentious negotiations on a longer-term funding package.
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI).
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Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI).

The House of Representatives on Thursday narrowly passed a stop-gap spending measure to continue funding the federal government through December 22. The bill prevents a shut-down that would be triggered if Congress fails to pass a spending bill before a deadline of midnight Friday.

The final tally was 235 yes votes, and 193 votes against. Thirty-two members bucked their respective parties: 18 Republicans voted no on the overwhelmingly GOP-backed bill, and 14 Democrats voted to pass the measure.

The bill maintains current federal spending levels for two weeks, and includes a provision to ensure that states can continue to fund the popular Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which last year provided insurance coverage for nearly nine million poor children across the country.

Once the two-week spending bill is signed, lawmakers will move on to the far more contentious task of passing a longer-term spending bill before December 22, when Thursday's bill expires.

Precisely how to reauthorize the CHIP program is only one of a number of issues that have yet to be resolved by congressional leaders, who met Thursday afternoon with President Donald Trump to begin talks on the longer-term bill, known as a continuing resolution.

"We're here in the spirit of 'let's get it done,'" Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. said in the Oval Office, where he was joined by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., both top Republicans, Trump and Defense Secretary Gen. James Mattis.

Over the next 10 days, negotiations are expected to center around Republican calls for an end to defense spending caps and Democrats' demands to fully reauthorize the CHIP program and extend protections for so-called dreamers, undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children.

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