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House readies vote on stopgap funding bill to avoid government shutdown

Kitco News

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. House of Representatives prepared to vote on Thursday on a stopgap government funding bill that would avoid a government shutdown on Oct. 1 by maintaining current spending levels until Nov. 21.

The measure, known as a continuing resolution or CR, is intended to give lawmakers additional time to agree on more comprehensive funding legislation after overcoming differences on funding priorities, including President Donald Trump’s proposed border wall with Mexico and immigration policies that Democrats oppose.

“Our hope is that we will take the few weeks we have, now that we have a continuing resolution, and actually get a spending bill that will get bipartisan support,” said Representative Jim McGovern, a Democrat.

The vote was expected to occur after an hour-long debate due to begin in mid-afternoon. If approved as expected, the measure would move to the Senate. Final passage would require approval from both houses of Congress and the signature of Trump.

The new measure was hammered out during negotiations involving members of both parties and lawmakers from both chambers of Congress.

Lawmakers adopted a two-year budget and debt deal in July that authorized discretionary defense and non-defense programs. But Congress still needs to pass annual legislation to fund agencies. Without approval of the new measure, funding would expire after midnight on Sept. 30, when the current federal fiscal year ends.

The government shut down for more than a month in December and January, after Trump initially refused to sign a spending bill without funding for the U.S.-Mexico border wall.

The new funding measure requires the Department of Agriculture to report to Congress by the end of October on payments made to U.S. farmers under the Trump administration’s trade war mitigation program, according to an aide who said payments to foreign-owned companies would have to be listed.

In composing the measure, lawmakers avoided border policy proposals from liberal Democrats to better ensure passage by both the Democratic-controlled House and Republican-led Senate.

The measure does include funding that Democrats sought for public-health centers and for the Medicaid healthcare program in the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico.

Reporting by David Morgan and Susan Cornwell; Editing by Tom Brown

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