WASHINGTON — Facing a Friday midnight deadline to avert a government shutdown, House Republicans leaders on Wednesday moved ahead with a plan to provide funds for four more weeks that excludes Democrats’ demands for an immigration deal.
But it wasn’t clear that Congress would be able to pass the bill to keep the government running — the fourth short-term funding measure in five months — as House Republican leaders scrambled for votes and most Senate Democrats appeared to oppose the plan.
Both sides blamed the other in case the bill doesn’t pass and much of the federal government shuts down Saturday for lack of money amid a drama-filled battle over the fate of immigrants brought to the United States illegally as children.
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said he hopes his caucus — which has 20 more votes than needed to approve legislation — will pass a spending bill to fund the government through Feb. 16, without Democrats and despite defections by conservative GOP members.
“We’re going to be bringing it to the floor this week. Real deadlines are occurring on Friday,” said Ryan, who unveiled the proposal, known as a continuing resolution or CR, at a House Republican caucus meeting Tuesday evening.
Ryan added a six-year extension of the popular Children’s Health Insurance Program to lure Democratic votes, and included military spending and delays on taxes on high-end health insurance, medical devices and health insurance providers to entice conservatives.
“It’s baffling to me that Democrats would be willing to block military funding for unrelated issues,” Ryan said, referring mainly to the fix for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, known as DACA, which President Donald Trump ordered to end on March 5.
Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-Queens), chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, said Republicans wrote their spending plan without Democrats, and if they want Democratic votes, the measure must be “reflective of Democratic values.”
Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) are banking on Democratic senators up for re-election in states that voted for Trump last year to provide the nine votes needed to reach the 60-vote threshold to pass the House spending measure.
“We’ll be taking it up as soon as it comes over from the House,” McConnell said. “I believe we have a good chance of passing it.”
President Donald Trump backs the proposal, said White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, at her daily news briefing.
“We do the support the short-term CR. However, that is not our first choice. We’d still like to see a clean, two-year funding bill,” she said, referring to a proposal to set a longer-term budget and spending plan.
But Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) warned that Senate Democrats might not provide those needed votes. Schumer has insisted that a measure to legalize DACA has to be added to a must-pass bill or it won’t come up for consideration in the House.
During the weekly luncheon, he said, the overwhelming number of members of the Democratic caucus “don’t like the bill.” Schumer said that in his caucus, “the revulsion toward that bill is broad and strong.”
Sanders put the blame on Senate Democrats if the government is shut down, because of their insistence on a bill to fix DACA.
“The president certainly doesn’t want a shutdown,” she said. “And if one happens, I think you have one place to look, and that’s to the Democrats.”
But Schumer said Republicans control the House, the Senate and the White House, and could pass almost any bill they want, and so the blame will fall on them if Congress does not beat the Friday midnight deadline by passing a spending bill.
“We hope to avoid it. We’re going to do everything we can to avoid it,” Schumer said. “If we can’t, it will fall on their backs.”