- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 6, 2018

House GOP leaders are planning a Tuesday vote on another stopgap spending bill that would keep the government running through March 23 and provide funding for the military through September.

The bill also contains funding for community health centers for the next two years, emergency disaster-related funding for the Small Business Association, several health care provisions, and other add-ons.

The government faces the prospect of another partial shutdown later this week if Congress doesn’t pass new legislation before Friday.

It would be the fifth short-term spending bill the House has passed since September, and would set up a likely showdown with the Senate. Democrats say they don’t favor pairing a short-term extension for domestic spending with a full year for the Pentagon, and that increases for defense funding should be paired with equivalent hikes for non-defense.

“The American public was reminded it’s not one simple party rule — in the Senate, it takes 60 votes to pass anything,” said House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy. “Unfortunately last time, we had to have a shutdown. Hopefully, we will not be in that situation again.”

The conservative House Freedom Caucus took an official position in favor of the GOP plan to couple the temporary funding bill with full defense funding for the rest of the fiscal year, increasing the chances that GOP leaders won’t need to rely on Democratic votes to get it across the finish line in the House.

But Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer said such an approach would be a “dead end” in the Senate — potentially setting up another shutdown showdown later in the week.

Lawmakers are trying to come up with a broader deal that would lift strict spending caps on defense and non-defense spending so that appropriators can start working on longer-term spending bills.

But the two sides aren’t quite there yet. Republicans say that defense should be prioritized after years of underfunding, while Democrats want an equivalent increase in domestic spending, pointing to past deals to lift the caps.

“I hope the Senate would take care of our men and women in uniform and our community health centers and things we care a lot about and [live] to fight another day on a bigger caps deal,” said Rep. Greg Walden, Oregon Republican.

Republicans also say that the spending negotiations should be separated from the debate over a program addressing young illegal immigrant “Dreamers,” which Democrats insisted be part of the spending debate last month.

After a three-day partial shutdown, Democrats ultimately relented after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell promised a full debate on immigration in the near future.

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