Lawmakers hope to approve a must-pass spending bill on Thursday as the clock ticks toward potential government shutdown this weekend. Despite the perilous situation, House Republican leaders are still struggling to unite the GOP rank-and-file behind a plan that would punt most of their remaining work into next year. House GOP leaders unveiled a plan Wednesday evening at a closed-door meeting. The upcoming short-term measure would fund the government through Jan. 19, giving lawmakers time next month to try to work out their leftover business. Opposition from Democrats means Republicans need to find unity among themselves to get the 217 votes needed, which once again is proving difficult. Politico's take: "The last-minute drama shows just how difficult it is for (Paul) Ryan to corral his fractured caucus, even just hours after his biggest win (as) speaker." Some pain points:
- USA Today reports Democrats have voiced opposition to any bill that does not have parity in spending on defense and non-defense programs. But the House version keeps non-defense funding at current levels while upping defense funding.
- GOP House Armed Services Committee members are upset about defense spending for another reason: They say they voted in favor of a short-term spending agreement a few weeks ago because they were given assurances that the Pentagon spending would see a "full-year boost" in the stopgap measure. But Politico reports the GOP says it doesn't have 217 votes to do so.
- Democrats have said they won't back any stopgap measure that doesn't include protection for those covered by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, but the Hill reports that some within the party fear resolve is weakening and DACA will go unaddressed and be booted into the new year. "Not optimistic," says Democratic Rep. Luis Gutierrez. "I think Democrats have really not stood up for the Dreamers as they can."
- And then there's hurricane relief: The GOP intends to also call for a vote on Thursday on an $81 billion relief package, which was finessed Wednesday night in the hopes of securing more Democrats' votes. But Politico notes the bill doesn't seem likely to sail through the Senate before the holiday recess; that could be problematic, as Texas and Florida lawmakers have sworn they won't leave until the funding is green lit.
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