President Trump signed a short-term bill extending government funding, acting hours before a deadline for a partial federal shutdown, the White House said Friday.
The stopgap, which passed the House and Senate on Thursday, extends current funding levels through Dec. 22. It does not resolve a standoff between Republicans and Democrats over federal spending levels. Nor does it include any agreement on immigration or other policy issues that have divided the parties.
Congressional leaders emerged from a White House meeting on those issues Thursday without any deal but said they would continue negotiating ahead of the new deadline.
While Republicans control the House, Senate and the White House, they need some Democratic votes to push any spending bill through Congress. That gives Democrats leverage to demand concessions, which in this case include higher domestic spending levels and legislation to address the legal status of “dreamers” — immigrants brought to the United States illegally as children.
By law, Congress can spend no more than $549 billion on defense programs and $516 billion on nondefense programs next year. Republicans want to exceed the defense cap by $54 billion while allowing a smaller bump in nondefense spending.
Democrats are pushing for an equivalent increase in nondefense spending, pointing to programs helping veterans and victims of opioid addiction, as well as failing pension funds.
During the White House meeting, Trump and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis impressed upon Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) the need to hike military spending to counter rising national security threats around the world, according to two aides briefed on the discussion. Midway through the meeting, Trump invited the attendees to the White House Situation Room for a briefing on those threats.
Democratic leaders, the aides said, expressed a willingness to accept higher defense spending, but only alongside higher nondefense spending. At one point, one aide said, Pelosi asked Trump, “Why can’t you take yes for an answer?”
Republican leaders, particularly House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), are under pressure from conservative lawmakers not to bow to Democratic requests for more domestic spending and an immigration deal.
Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), chairman of the hard-right House Freedom Caucus, said Thursday that if relief for dreamers is added to a coming spending bill, “it will be met with such resistance that we haven’t seen on the Hill for many, many years.”
The short-term measure Trump signed Friday passed the House 235 to 193, then passed the Senate 81 to 14.
While the stopgap does not change current government funding levels, it does include a provision to maintain the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, which serves nearly 9 million children and has been in limbo since its congressional authorization expired on Sept. 30.
The Department of Health and Human Services will now be able to shift funds internally to help states whose CHIP programs are running out of money. Congressional leaders are expected to continue negotiating a long-term reauthorization of the program in the coming weeks.