WASHINGTON – Republicans controlling the House are set to unveil a short-term spending bill on Tuesday with new funds to battle the Ebola outbreak but no additional funding to cope with the crisis of unaccompanied immigrant children on the southern border.
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The top priority for GOP leaders is to avoid a repeat of last year's politically damaging partial shutdown of the government.
There's no sign of any tea party uprising like there was last year when conservatives forced a standoff over implementing the new health care law that sparked a 16-day shutdown. Republicans absorbed the blame.
The new budget year begins Oct. 1. The temporary spending bill would keep the government running into mid-December to buy time to negotiate a catchall $1 trillion-plus spending bill after the elections
House Appropriations Committee Chairman Harold Rogers, R-Ky., said the measure will contain millions of dollars to pay for the government's response to the Ebola outbreak in western Africa and to develop drugs and vaccines to combat the disease. He wouldn't go into further detail other than to say there is money for both the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's efforts to help contain the Ebola outbreak in western Africa and for speeding the production of promising drugs to fight the deadly disease.
But Rogers said there's no need for additional money to process and care for thousands on unaccompanied children fleeing violence in El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala.
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"They really don't need it. We've looked at that and I think there's sufficient funds," Rogers said. "If they're allowed some flexibility in moving monies around they can handle it. So that's the way we hope to deal with it."
The funding measure is also likely to carry language to extend the authority of the Export-Import Bank until next June or so. The bank helps finance foreign purchases of U.S. exports.
A Rogers spokeswoman said the stopgap measure wouldn't be released until after a meeting Tuesday afternoon between President Barack Obama and top congressional leaders.
In May, in a speech at West Point, Obama called for a $5 billion counterterrorism fund, but the proposal drew resistance on Capitol Hill as the administration was unable to spell out how the money would be spent. Frustrated Democrats and Republicans pressed the administration for specifics.
On Monday, White House spokesman Josh Earnest revived the call for the $5 billion.
Obama, in May, also had called for $500 million to arm moderate rebels in Syria battling the forces of President Bashar Assad.
"It seems to me that Congress, to the extent we've been talking about this, has been criticizing the president for not doing enough," said Rep. Adam Smith of Washington, top Democrat on the Armed Services Committee. "So now, when he comes and asks for money to do something I would tend to think he would get it."
There's growing optimism among Republicans that the party is poised to recapture the Senate, which is likely to raise questions about whether to wrap up this year's appropriations bills in a lame duck session in which Democrats would be in the majority. Some Republicans might press to delay action until Republicans are in charge of both House and Senate.
But Rogers and other top lawmakers like House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, would prefer to wrap up the unfinished appropriations work this year.
"I want to see us get our business done and come into the new year with a clean slate," Rogers said.