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House GOP conservatives may be making headway in their effort to keep the government open through Dec. 30 instead of setting up a pre-Christmas deadline for a potential bipartisan budget deal.
Conservative Rep. Mark Meadows is among those who worry that the leadership's proposed Dec. 22 deadline might set up Republicans for a fleecing at the hands of Democrats.
The North Carolina Republican and about a dozen other conservatives temporarily withheld their votes on a key procedural motion on the GOP tax bill to register their displeasure.
Meadows said after Monday's vote that House Speaker Paul Ryan promised to consider a delay until Dec. 30. He said, "there's a whole lot more pressure to get home for Christmas than there is for New Year's."
Members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus nearly scuttled GOP efforts on the tax bill, the Republicans' top legislative priority.
In a dramatic delay Monday night, members of the hard-right group withheld their votes for a motion to begin negotiations with the Senate on the tax bill. The 15-minute vote dragged on for more than a half-hour as GOP leaders tried to sway members of the caucus.
The group was seeking leverage in end-of-year talks on keeping the government open. Facing a Friday night deadline, leadership wants a two-week extension to continue negotiations with Democrats.
The Freedom Caucus wants a longer extension.
After a tense standoff, members of the group finally relented and backed the motion on taxes. The vote was 222-192, with all Democrats opposed.
House Republicans have voted to move ahead on negotiating with the Senate on their far-reaching overhaul of the nation's tax code.
The House voted Monday night to begin a House-Senate conference to work out the differences between the two bills. The House passed its version of the $1.5 trillion measure last month. The Senate narrowly passed its own bill Saturday.
Both bills would slash the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent, eliminate some popular deductions and double the standard deduction used by most taxpayers.
Republican leaders are upbeat about resolving their differences and finishing a bill in time to send the measure to President Donald Trump by Christmas
Significant differences separate the massive tax packages passed by the House and Senate on estate taxes, health care and a prized deduction for home mortgage interest.
But Republican leaders are confident none is insurmountable.
Republicans are trying to pass the biggest rewrite of the tax system in more than 30 years.
Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell says "we're looking forward to getting a final bill to the president's desk, soon."
Both versions would cut taxes by about $1.5 trillion over the next decade while adding billions to the deficit. But they take different approaches.
And it will be up to lawmakers to try to reconcile differences in the competing versions.