Clock Ticks Down to Possible US Government Shutdown 

House Republicans, facing a Friday night deadline to approve funding that would keep the government running, voted 230-197 Thursday to pass a temporary spending measure.

The bill faces uncertain prospects in the Senate.

Lawmakers had two options: Either agree on a one-month temporary spending measure, known on Capitol Hill as a continuing resolution, or shut down the government until funding can be agreed upon.

If the temporary measure had been approved, lawmakers would be able to use the next month to negotiate a spending package to cover the rest of fiscal 2018, which ends September 30.

This is the fourth such vote taken in recent months.

Issues

Republican leaders in Congress were struggling to get enough support for the one-month spending measure. Some lawmakers were objecting to passing yet another temporary spending bill, and some others wanted more spending for military programs, even for a temporary bill.

Immigration was a second sticking point. A number of Democrats said they would oppose any spending plan that lacked protection for 800,000 young immigrants, known informally as “Dreamers,” who were brought to the United States illegally while they were children. They were protected from deportation by an Obama-era program that President Donald Trump rescinded last year.

The third major issue was children’s insurance. Trump objected to a measure that would extend children’s health insurance for the next six years, which had largely Democratic support but was being supported by some Republicans as a means of getting the bill passed.

The spending package being voted did not include enough military spending to please some Republicans, it had no protections for the Dreamers and its children’s insurance provisions were less than what Democrats wanted.

Senate action

After passage in the House, the Senate could hold its vote on the bill Friday.

But passage in the Senate wasn’t certain. Two Republicans have announced they will not support the measure, meaning it needs support from at least 11 Democrats to reach the 60 votes required to pass.

The U.S. government has shut down before. The last time was in 2013, in a deadlock over health care policy. The shutdown lasted 16 days and furloughed hundreds of thousands of federal workers. 

What stops and what continues during a federal shutdown varies, but federal research projects could be stalled, national parks closed, tax refunds delayed, processing of veterans’ disability applications delayed and federal nutrition programs suspended, as was the case in 2013.

The government has officially shut down 18 times since 1976, when the current federal budgeting process was instituted.

VOA’s Michael Bowman on Capitol Hill contributed to this report.

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