Congress Readies Bill to Keep Government Open for a Week -- Update

By Natalie Andrews Features Dow Jones Newswires

Facing a Saturday morning deadline to avoid a government shutdown, House lawmakers have released a one-week spending bill to keep the government open while they negotiate a deal.

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Government funding expires on Saturday at 12:01 a.m. The weeklong stopgap measure would give lawmakers more time to settle on a five-month spending bill that would fund the government through the rest of the fiscal year.

"This continuing resolution will continue to keep the government open and operating as normal for the next several days, in order to finalize legislation to fund the federal government for the rest of the fiscal year," House Appropriations Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R., N.J.) said in a statement.

The timing of votes on the measure was unclear, but it was expected to pass. Congressional leaders have been inching toward a deal to fund the government through the rest of fiscal 2017, which ends Sept. 30, and the most contentious issues appear to have been resolved or set aside.

A hurdle was cleared Wednesday, as White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus told House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) that the administration would continue making "cost-sharing reduction" payments to insurers, despite the lack of an appropriation for them in the April spending bill.

The assurance appeared to satisfy Democrats, who warn that insurers will stop offering policies under the Affordable Care Act if the payments end. Democratic votes will be needed to pass the spending bill.

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The stopgap resolution would also extend health-care coverage by one week for retired coal miners and their dependents, who were facing a loss of care with the government deadline. Lawmakers are wrangling over whether to extend the funding permanently or on a more limited basis.

Write to Natalie Andrews at Natalie.Andrews@wsj.com

WASHINGTON -- Lawmakers prepared to vote Friday on a weeklong spending bill needed to avoid a shutdown of the U.S. government on Saturday, but Democratic resistance added uncertainty and volatility to the day.

In a related development, Republicans signaled late Thursday that they were still short of the votes needed to revive and pass legislation to replace most of the Affordable Care Act.

House GOP leaders had been trying to corral votes in hopes of passing the bill before President Donald Trump's 100th day in office on Saturday. But House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.) said Thursday night that the chamber wouldn't vote on the bill Friday or Saturday.

The developments showed the difficulty GOP leaders have faced in trying to come to terms with Democrats on a spending bill to keep the government open after Friday while also pressing forward on a health-care bill uniformly opposed by Democrats.

Write to Natalie Andrews at Natalie.Andrews@wsj.com and Kristina Peterson at kristina.peterson@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

April 27, 2017 23:22 ET (03:22 GMT)