Congress Passes Stopgap Spending Bill to Avoid Government Shutdown--3rd Update

By Natalie Andrews and Kristina Peterson Features Dow Jones Newswires

Congress on Friday approved legislation to extend funding for the federal government by one week, avoiding a partial government shutdown on Saturday.

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The stopgap measure approved gives lawmakers through May 5 to settle on a spending bill to fund the government through the rest of the fiscal year, which ends on Sept. 30.

The House passed the measure on a vote 382-30, with 207 Republicans and 175 Democrats backing the legislation. The Senate passed the bill on a voice vote soon after, with no lawmakers objecting. The bill headed next to the president, who was expected to sign it.

Republicans, with control of both chambers and the White House, will mark President Donald Trump's 100th day in office Saturday without having passed any major legislation and with the government funding set to run out in less than a week.

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, an effort Mr. Trump wanted to take on his first day in office.

Lawmakers from both parties said the one-week measure passed Friday was needed because negotiators ran out of time to finish some narrow pieces of a five-month spending bill before the Saturday deadline.

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The most contentious issues of the longer-term spending bill appeared to have been resolved by Friday. Democrats were still trying to block some Republican policy measures in the bill that would cancel some environmental and other regulations, as well as a rider that would exempt 7,000 flavors of e-cigarettes from review by the Federal Drug Administration.

Ahead of the Senate vote on the short-term measure, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) said Friday lawmakers were making "good enough progress" in negotiations on funding for the rest of fiscal 2017, and that the agreement would increase spending, as Democrats wanted, for housing assistance, Pell grants for college students and the National Institutes of Health. The spending bill is also expected to increase funding for the military and border security, as Republicans requested.

The stopgap resolution also extends health-care coverage by one week for more than 22,000 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. The issue arises because of a decades-old federal promise of lifetime pensions and retiree health benefits to United Mine Workers of America to miners who worked for companies that went bankrupt.

Democrats conceded this week that funding for the pensions wouldn't be in the final spending bill, as they had wanted. Health-care for the miners, however, appears to be on track.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.), whose state is home to retired miners who benefit from the health-care program, said Friday on the Senate floor that he would "continue to fight on their behalf to secure a permanent solution on this issue in the larger funding bill."

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

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

April 28, 2017 16:37 ET (20:37 GMT)