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Clock running out to avert government shutdown as Trump blames Democrats

From Reuters - January 19, 2018

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Racing against a midnight deadline, the U.S. Congress will try on Friday to send President Donald Trump legislation to keep the government operating and avoid federal agency shutdowns that would otherwise begin on Saturday.

The House of Representatives voted 230-197 on Thursday night for a bill to extend expiring funding through Feb. 16.

But with tempers frayed and Republicans and Democrats deeply divided over immigration legislation that has found its way into the government funding fight, the bill appeared to be on the verge of collapse in the Senate.

In an early morning tweet on Friday hours ahead of the deadline, Trump accused Democrats of holding up the measure over immigration.

Democrats are needed if it is to pass in the Senate - but they want illegal immigration and weak borders. Shutdown coming? Trump, who is scheduled to leave Washington later on Friday afternoon to spend the weekend at his Florida resort.

Republicans control the Senate but need at least nine Democrats to reach the 60 votes needed to pass a spending bill. In addition to strong Democratic opposition, at least three Republican senators have said they will not back the continuing resolution in its current form.

Without a replenishment of funds, federal agencies ranging from the Department of Agriculture, Health and Human Services and State Department to the Pentagon and Justice Department would have to curtail some activities and furlough workers.

Nearly four months into the 2018 fiscal year, the two parties still had not agreed on top-line spending for defense and non-defense programs, rendering impossible the passage of a long-term government funding bill.

Instead, Congress has been struggling to pass its fourth short-term appropriations measure.

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