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Congress averts government shutdown hours before deadline

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WASHINGTON – House members have easily voted to approve a short-term spending bill that would avoid a partial government shutdown at midnight.

The measure gives negotiators until next Friday to resolve final differences over a $1 trillion bill financing federal agencies through Sept. 30. That’s the end of the current fiscal year.

While the vote was not over, the chamber was on track to overwhelmingly approve the weeklong measure and send it to the Senate. Senators are expected to approve it and ship it to President Donald Trump for his signature in time for federal facilities to continue to operate.

Significantly, Congress did not vote Friday on a revised Republican health care bill that has stalled because it lacks needed votes. The White House was hoping the House would approve the bill by Saturday, Trump’s 100th day in office.

Congressional leaders managed to sideline — for now — a series a political tripwires in recent days, leaving out funding for a border wall, as well as continuing to fund subsidies for low income Americans as part of Obamacare.

The goal for next week is to pass the omnibus bill, but differences remain and leaders of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees are still haggling over the final points — with input from bipartisan leadership and the White House.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said that staff worked late into the night Thursday on the bill, adding sticking points remain, but there was progress.

“Not all the poison pill riders have been eliminated, some have. A good number have,” the New York Democrat said Friday. “We’re willing to extend things for a little bit more time in hopes that the same kind of progress can continue to be made, but we still have a little bit of a ways to go.”