Bumping up against another shutdown deadline, Congress will have to pass a short-term spending bill next week and push big decisions into next year, lawmakers said Thursday — though Democrats said they may still force a shutdown fight over new rights for illegal immigrants.
A number of rank-and-file Democrats have said they will not approve any spending bill that doesn’t grant a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrant Dreamers, and have imposed an end-of-year deadline for approving such a bill.
That creates a major wrinkle as Republicans try to clear the decks ahead of a Christmas vacation, and as Democrats decide how far they want to go in brinkmanship.
“We will pass a short-term [bill] that is necessary to keep the government open, to keep talks going,” said House Speaker Paul D. Ryan. “If the Senate Democrats choose to filibuster that, then they will have chosen to shut the government down, something that we do not want to see happen.”
Current government funding expires Dec. 8 and without a new bill there would be a shutdown of non-essential operations.
The last shutdown in 2013 was spawned by Republicans, who controlled the House and who demanded changes to Obamacare. Democrats, who controlled the Senate and the White House resisted, and the GOP relented after polls showed them taking the blame.
The GOP controls the House, Senate and White House this time around, however, and it would be minority Democrats who would be in the position of preventing funding.
Mr. Ryan seemed confident that Republicans will be unified enough to pass the bill in the House. The timeline was still being debated, but conservatives said they wanted to make sure the next spending deadline isn’t until the new year.
Democratic leaders were coy about their own strategy Thursday, with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi saying she’ll wait to see what the GOP bill looks like before deciding what to do.
By Stephen Dinan for THE WASHINTON POST
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