(Adds views of conservative group in U.S. House, paragraphs
By Richard Cowan and Roberta Rampton
WASHINGTON, Dec 8 (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump on
Friday signed legislation to fund the federal government for two
weeks, giving congressional negotiators more time to work out
budget priorities through next September and other thorny policy
White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said in a post on
Twitter that Trump, as expected, signed the stop-gap funding
bill that averts a shutdown of federal agencies at midnight when
existing money runs out.
For months, Republican and Democratic leaders in Congress
have been working behind the scenes to hammer out a deal to fund
government for fiscal 2018, which began on Oct. 1. Absent that
deal, Washington has been operating on temporary spending bills.
Much of the negotiation centers around Republican demands
for increased military spending. Democrats say the Pentagon does
need more money, but they argue that an array of other domestic
programs also face shortfalls.
A senior Senate Democratic aide said on Friday that the
negotiators are trying to figure out how to divide up $200
billion over two years in additional funding.
That much of a spending increase is setting off alarms among
Representative Mark Meadows, who heads the House Freedom
Caucus comprised of about three dozen of some of the most
conservative members of Congress, said that $70 billion to $80
billion in added spending would be more reasonable.
The caucus is pushing for Pentagon increases without more
money for other domestic programs.
Besides the spending levels, the Democratic aide said
negotiators are hoping to come to a deal on protecting around
700,000 undocumented immigrants, who were brought to the United
States as children, from possible deportation.
Other elements of the negotiations include new disaster
relief funds for Puerto Rico and U.S. states hard-hit by
hurricanes and wildfires, as well as funding for a children's
health-insurance program for low-income families and money for
community health centers.
Many in Congress hope the negotiations on these issues can
be wrapped up before Dec. 22, when current funding expires and
lawmakers hope to leave Washington for a winter break.
(Reporting by Richard Cowan and Roberta Rampton; additional
reporting by Katanga Johnson; Editing by Grant McCool)
First Published: 2017-12-08 01:04:59
Updated 2017-12-08 20:38:27
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