- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 14, 2017

Democrats said Thursday they’ll reject a stopgap funding bill to keep the government open through January, raising the risks of a shutdown at the end of next week as the two parties battle over whether the Pentagon or domestic spending takes priority.

Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer said House Republicans need to go back and write a new bill that recognizes Democrats’ priorities, saying the current version the GOP plans to send over will face a filibuster.

“It will quickly fail in the Senate,” he said.

The government is operating on a two-week extension of fiscal year 2017 funding levels. That money is slated to run out Dec. 22.

Late Wednesday, House Republicans announced a new bill that would include full-year funding for the Pentagon, but just four more weeks of spending power for the rest of the government.

GOP leaders said the Defense Department cannot continue to live on stopgap bills, and needs a major cash infusion as well.

But Democrats said every additional dollar to the Pentagon must be met with more money for education, health and other domestic needs.

“Parity is the issue,” said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

The government has been running on stopgap funding since Oct. 1, which was the start of the fiscal year. Republicans, now in complete control of the political levers of Washington, were unable to get the dozen annual spending bills done in time.

Mr. Schumer blamed the impasse on hard-core conservatives who have refused to entertain domestic spending increases.

But even if the GOP were to nix its defense spending portion of the new bill, Democrats wouldn’t support it, Mrs. Pelosi said.

“No. Let me be really clear: No,” she told reporters.

Democrats are looking for a number of add-ons, including a government bailout for private sector union workers whose pension funds were sapped by the 2008 Wall Street collapse, and a new program to provide a pathway to citizenship to nearly 2 million illegal immigrant “Dreamers.”

Liberal groups have put intense pressure on Democrats to reject any bill that lacks relief for Dreamers.

“We want to make clear that votes on any spending bill that moves forward without a clean Dream Act are votes to deport Dreamers and rip communities apart already tarnished by heightened violence, discrimination and criminalization with an administration that has continued to champion a racist, white supremacist, xenophobic and Islamophobic agenda,” liberal groups said in a letter Thursday aimed at stiffening Democrats’ spines.

While Dreamers are generally protected until March 5 — the completion date of President Trump’s six-month phaseout of the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals deportation amnesty — immigration activists have set an artificial deadline of the end of this year.

Another sticking point to a spending deal is the size and scope of a disaster relief bill to assist Puerto Rico and states on the Gulf of Mexico that were hurt by hurricanes this year.

And the parties are also battling over the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, which is a federal-state partnership to provide health coverage for children whose parents are too well-off to qualify for Medicaid, but too poor to easily afford their own insurance.

House Republicans have voted to renew the program, but cut Obamacare funding in order to offset the costs of CHIP. Democrats balked at that.

Without a new cash infusion, some states will begin to run out of money early next year.

The GOP’s new short-term bill keeps the program running, but Mrs. Pelosi said Democrats don’t like the way it’s funded.

“We’re willing to find offsets, but not from children’s health,” Mrs. Pelosi said.

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