House Republicans pass short-term spending bill that is likely doomed in the Senate

Key Points
  • House Republicans on Tuesday passed a short-term government spending bill that boosts defense spending for the rest of the year.
  • The legislation is effectively doomed in the Senate, where lawmakers are negotiating a different spending plan.
  • These delicate talks were complicated by President Donald Trump on Tuesday, who seemed to endorse the idea of a government shutdown.
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) speaks to reporters ahead of an expected vote in the Republican-led U.S. House of Representatives on a short-term budget measure that would avert a rerun of last month's three-day partial government shutdown, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., February 6, 2018.
Joshua Roberts | Reuters

House Republicans on Tuesday passed a bill to lift caps on Pentagon spending for the next eight months and fund the rest of the government at current levels for just six weeks. The bill is the GOP's opening salvo in a high-stakes gamble set to play out this week in Washington.

With the government's latest short-term spending bill set to run out on Friday, it's imperative that the House and Senate agree on a spending bill, or risk another government shutdown.

Yet the House bill passed Tuesday evening is effectively doomed in the Senate, where Democrats are demanding that Congress raise caps on discretionary spending along with defense spending.

Meanwhile, Democratic and Republican senators huddled Tuesday morning to negotiate what could ultimately become the deal that averts the looming shutdown.

"Democrats have made our position in these negotiations very clear," Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. said Tuesday. "We support an increase in funding for our military and for our middle class. The two are not mutually exclusive. We don't want to do just one and leave the other behind."

The delicate talks were further complicated by President Donald Trump on Tuesday, who seemed to endorse the idea of a government shutdown if lawmakers failed to reach a comprehensive immigration deal this week --- something that was not previously considered a top priority as part of the last-minute spending talks.

Speaking at a meeting of law enforcement officials, Trump said, "if we don't get rid of [certain immigration enforcement] loopholes ... if we don't change it, let's have a shutdown. We'll do a shutdown."

"I'd love to see a shutdown if we don't get this stuff taken care of," the president said.

It was unclear late Tuesday what the next steps would be for the House bill. The legislation now heads to the Senate, where it is expected to undergo significant changes. These amendments will likely cost it the support of many of the same House Republicans who voted for it on Tuesday evening.