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US House advances funding bill to avert government shutdown
[WASHINGTON] The US House of Representatives on Thursday approved a stopgap federal spending extension as pressure mounted on President Donald Trump and congressional leaders to reach agreement to fully fund government and avert a crippling shutdown.
With federal spending authority expiring on Friday at midnight, Congress is up against the wall to agree to a short-term measure known as a "continuing resolution," or CR, to keep the lights on as lawmakers and Trump hash out budget priorities for 2018.
While Democratic and Republican leaders huddled with Mr Trump at the White House, the House of Representatives passed an extension of funding at current levels until December 22, in a 235-193 vote.
The measure now heads to the Senate, which is expected to pass the CR later Thursday in order to get it to Mr Trump's desk well before the deadline.
"We hope we can come to an agreement," top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer said as he entered meetings with Mr Trump and congressional leaders.
"We're here in the spirit of 'Let's get it done'."
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi also expressed hope that a deal could be reached in the coming weeks.
"Democrats have never supported shutting down government, and we don't do so now."
The meeting between Mr Trump and the Democrats (along with Republicans) almost didn't happened.
The quintet had been scheduled to meet last week but Democrats skipped the talks after the president tweeted preemptively that he did not expect them to come to an agreement.
Senate Democrats had threatened to block progress on a CR unless they can win concessions from Republicans on a number of issues, notably the fate of hundreds of thousands of young immigrants who came to the United States as children.
Mr Trump's predecessor, Barack Obama, protected the so-called "Dreamers" from expulsion through an executive order.
Mr Trump rescinded that order, but then told Congress to craft a legal solution within the next six months.
Ms Pelosi said passage of the Dream Act protecting young immigrants was a top priority.
But with the Trump administration seeking to add to the country's military spending for 2018, Ms Pelosi said Democrats wanted to match those hikes on the domestic side.
"Our fight is to bring up the domestic agenda to parity" with military spending hikes, she said.
Democrats also supported several bipartisan priorities including funding opioid abuse prevention, disaster relief funding, and reauthorizing the Children's Health Insurance Programme.