WASHINGTON — The US House of Representatives passed a stop-gap funding measure late Thursday that would avert a government shutdown, sending it to the Senate where Democrats have vowed to block it.
With the federal government set to run out of money Friday at midnight -- the eve of the one-year anniversary of Donald Trump’s inauguration -- the bill cleared the House with a 230-197 vote.
But prospects appeared gloomy in the Senate, where Democrats eager for leverage on budget and immigration deals were intent on shooting it down.
“The House just did the right thing -- for our men and women in uniform AND for the millions of children who rely on CHIP,” tweeted House Speaker Paul Ryan following the vote, referring to a popular children’s health insurance program.
Ryan urged Senate Democrats to “do the right thing by the American people.” President Trump on Thursday added to the chaos gripping Washington, weighing in on the intense Republican maneuvering aimed at avoiding a politically embarrassing funding debacle.
After a burst of tweets he second-guessed top Republican lawmakers and slapped down his own chief of staff, who had been leading a White House push on Capitol Hill for a budget compromise.
Arriving at the Pentagon for a visit, Trump told reporters the government “could very well” shut down Friday.
In the event of a shutdown, federal employees for agencies considered non-essential are ordered to stay home until a budget deal is struck, at which point they are paid retroactively. The most recent shutdowns -- in 1995, 1996 and 2013 -- saw some 800,000 workers furloughed per day.
Key government bodies such as the White House, Congress, State Department and Pentagon would remain operational, but would likely furlough some staff.
The military would still report for duty, but troops -- including those in combat -- would potentially not be paid.
The finger-pointing had already begun, with each side blaming the other for a failure to reach a budget compromise after three previous funding extensions.
“A government shutdown will be devastating to our military... something the Dems care very little about!” Trump tweeted in the morning. — AFP