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House Passes Bill to Keep Government Open

The measure would keep the government running through Feb. 16. The government faces a partial shutdown at midnight Friday, an outcome both sides say they want to avoid but one that seems increasingly possible.

Posted: Jan. 18, 2018 5:51 PM

WASHINGTON D.C.

7:38 p.m.

The House has passed a temporary government-wide funding bill that would avert a government shutdown this weekend.

The measure still faces iffy prospects in the Senate, where Democrats are poised to block it in hopes of spurring slow-moving talks on immigration.

The measure would keep the government running through Feb. 16. The government faces a partial shutdown at midnight Friday, an outcome both sides say they want to avoid but one that seems increasingly possible.

The 230-197 vote came after an influential bloc of House conservatives won promises of future action on separate legislation to bolster the military and tighten immigration laws. House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows announced the group's support after talks with House GOP leaders and President Donald Trump.

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6:40 p.m.

The leader of the House Freedom Caucus says the conservative group will now back a Republican bill preventing a federal shutdown for a month. Their support seemingly ensures that the measure will pass the House later Thursday.

But the bill's prospects in the Senate remain gloomy.

North Carolina Rep. Mark Meadows leads the Freedom Caucus. He says he's struck a deal with House Speaker Paul Ryan that would bolster military spending and allow a future vote on a conservative immigration bill.

Most House Democrats are likely to oppose the measure keeping government open, but there should be enough GOP votes for passage.

Most Senate Democrats and some Republicans say they'll oppose the legislation. Democrats want a bipartisan deal on a less restrictive immigration bill.

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6:30 p.m.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is urging his Republican colleagues against joining Democrats in opposing a bill preventing a federal shutdown.

The Kentucky Republican is also telling them to expect to work this weekend if that measure is blocked.

McConnell says in an email obtained by The Associated Press that Republicans who vote with Democrats to oppose a bill keeping government open are playing "right into the Democrats' hands."

The House is expected to vote Thursday night on the bill. It would finance government until Feb. 16. The House seems increasingly likely to approve the measure.

Its prospects seem gloomy in the Senate, where most Democrats were expected to vote no. They first want a deal on immigration and spending. Some Republicans are threatening to join them.

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6:15 p.m.

Rep. Mark Meadows, the Republican chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, says he's going to recommend to members of the group that they vote for a continuing resolution to keep the government running.

Securing more votes from GOP conservatives enhances the prospects that Speaker Paul Ryan gets the votes necessary to pass the short-term spending measure up for a vote Thursday night.

Meadows says he just met with Ryan, who discussed proposals "that would actually be beneficial to the military and our focus on the military's needs going forward."

Meadows was unable to discuss the provisions, except to say they deal with military readiness.

He says he'll recommend "supporting the president in this initiative" and that includes voting for the spending bill.

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3:15 p.m.

The Interior Department says that if there is a government shutdown, national parks and other public lands will remain as accessible as possible. The stance is a change from previous shutdowns when most parks were closed and became high-profile symbols.

Spokeswoman Heather Swifts says the American public - especially veterans who come to the nation's capital - should find war memorials and open air parks open to visitors. Swift says many national parks and wildlife refuges nationwide will also be open with limited access when possible.

She says public roads that already open are likely to remain open, although services that require staffing and maintenance such as campgrounds, full-service restrooms and concessions won't be operating. Backcountry lands and culturally sensitive sites are likely to be restricted or closed.

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3:10 p.m.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says the State Department is "ready" if the federal government shuts down.

Tillerson is responding to questions about his agency's preparations for what to do if Congress fails to pass a stopgap spending measure. He says he hopes that doesn't happen. But he says if it does, "We're ready."

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert says no decisions have been made about what services like visa processing and passports the State Department could provide during a shutdown. She also says there's been no decision about whether Tillerson could proceed with a planned Europe trip next week if the government shuts down.

Nauert says security for American diplomats overseas won't be affected. She says Tillerson and individual embassies have some discretion over how to handle a shutdown.

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2:15 p.m.

Mexico is disputing President Donald Trump's claim that it is the "most dangerous country in the world." Mexico also says, again, that it will not pay for a border wall.

Trump tweeted Thursday, "We need the Wall to help stop the massive inflow of drugs from Mexico, now rated the number one most dangerous country in the world." He also insisted that Mexico would pay for the wall.

Mexico's Foreign Relations Department concedes the country has a problem with violence but says it is "openly false" to call it the most dangerous.

It points out the most recent global comparison by the United Nations put Mexico far from being one of the most dangerous countries, and the department says Mexico's murder rate is not even the highest in Latin America.

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12:12 p.m.

The White House says President Donald Trump supports the House effort to avert a government shutdown and fund a popular children's health insurance program for six years.

"The President supports the continuing resolution introduced in the House," White House spokesman Raj Shah says in a statement. "Congress needs to do its job and provide full funding of our troops and military with a two-year budget caps deal. However, as the deal is negotiated, the President wants to ensure our military and national security are funded. He will not let it be held hostage by Democrats."

Trump cast his support for the measure into doubt earlier Thursday with a tweet that criticized the length of the CHIP reauthorization. "CHIP should be part of a long term solution, not a 30 Day, or short term, extension!" Trump tweeted.

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12:09 p.m.

House Speaker Paul Ryan says he's confident that the GOP-controlled House will do its part and pass legislation to keep the government open for another four weeks.

The Wisconsin Republican told Reporters Thursday that GOP vote counters are "doing fine. I have confidence we'll pass this."

The House is slated to vote Thursday evening but members of the hard-right House Freedom Caucus are opposed to the measure.

Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows said leaders are refusing to attach items such as funding to fully finance a 2.4 percent pay raise for the military.

Ryan said he spoke to President Donald Trump and said Trump fully supports the House measure, despite tweeting earlier Thursday that a popular children's health insurance program should not be part of the short-term budget agreement.

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11:34 a.m.

President Donald Trump says a government shutdown "could happen," saying it is "up to the Democrats."

Trump spoke as he arrived at the Pentagon for a meeting Thursday. He said on his way in that he was there "for our military" and said if a shutdown happens, the "worst thing is what happens to our military."

Trump said the country "just about never needed our military more than now."

Republicans and Democrats are scrambling to avert the shutdown, which could come at midnight Friday. Trump injected confusion into the process Thursday with a tweet that a children's health insurance program should not be part of a short-term budget agreement.

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9:45 a.m.

President Donald Trump says a children's health insurance program shouldn't be part of a short-term budget deal.

Trump favors making the program part of "a long term solution, not a 30 Day, or short term, extension!"

Trump is referring to the Children's Health Insurance Program, also known as CHIP

House Republican leaders have included a six-year renewal in a short-term budget bill in an effort to woo Democrats. But the effort faces resistance from Democrats who've been demanding protections for certain young immigrants.

The White House isn't immediately responding to questions about the tweet.

Trump also says he doesn't want to see a government shutdown - and the shutdown deadline is fast approaching. It's midnight Friday.

He says a "shutdown will be devastating to our military ... something the Dems care very little about!"

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6:35 a.m.

President Donald Trump is pushing back against his own chief of staff over the border wall with Mexico.

Trump tweets that "The Wall is the Wall, it has never changed or evolved from the first day I conceived of it."

Some Democrats who met with Trump aide John Kelly on Wednesday say Kelly told them there are parts of the border where a wall isn't needed and that Trump didn't know that when making campaign promises.

Trump is now tweeting that some of the wall will be "see through and it was never intended to be built in areas where there is natural protection such as mountains, wastelands or tough rivers or water ..."

He's also saying the wall "will be paid for, directly or indirectly, or through longer term reimbursement, by Mexico, which has a ridiculous $71 billion dollar trade surplus with the U.S. The $20 billion dollar Wall is 'peanuts' compared to what Mexico makes from the U.S."

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12:40 a.m.

The White House chief of staff says President Donald Trump's views on immigration are evolving.

And that statement is giving some people hope for a compromise. But perplexing others.

John Kelly's comments come amid a shaky effort to reach a deal to protect hundreds of thousands of young immigrants from deportation.

It's a push that the White House and Republicans say they would back if it's coupled with tough border security measures and other restrictions.

Kelly made the remarks Wednesday at a closed-door meeting with members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus - according to participants. And he made similar remarks later on Fox News Channel.

Kelly tells Fox that Trump has "very definitely changed his attitude" toward protecting the young immigrants, "and even the wall, once we briefed him."

(Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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