House, Senate pass stopgap bill to avert weekend shutdown

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on the budget battle in Congress (all times local):

616 p.m.

No government shutdown — for now.

The Senate has voted 81-14 for a spending bill to keep the government open until Dec. 22. The Senate approval comes about an hour after the House backed the measure.

The bill now heads to President Donald Trump for his expected signature.

The measure provides funds to government agencies, from the Defense Department to the IRS. The two-week spending bill also makes money available to several states that are running out of funds for the Children’s Health Insurance Program. That widely popular program provides medical care to more than 8 million children.

Passage of the measure gives Republicans and Democrats more time to negotiate some of the other end-of-year agenda items, including immigration.
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6 p.m.

The White House says President Donald Trump had a “constructive” meeting with congressional leaders, with the parties agreeing on the need to eliminate mandatory defense spending caps.

Congressional aides say Republicans and Democrats have agreed to raise defense spending caps but have not yet reached an agreement on non-defense spending. Democrats are seeking dollar-for-dollar increases in non-defense spending such as pensions, veterans’ services and fighting opioid addiction.

The White House says Trump, House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell want negotiations on immigration to be held separately rather than as part of the government funding bill.

Trump says any immigration package needs to end so-called chain migration, provide funding for a border wall and strengthen immigration enforcement.
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5:45 p.m.

Republicans and Democratic leaders say they had a “productive” meeting Thursday with President Donald Trump on keeping the government running.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer say nothing specific was agreed to. They say “we had a productive conversation on a wide variety of issues.”

Spokesmen for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Speaker Paul Ryan say the Republicans focused on the need to reach a long-term funding agreement that provides adequate resources for the military.

The Republican leaders spoke of the need to help young immigrants brought into the country illegally as children, but also stressed the importance of addressing border security and other parts of “our broken immigration system.” They say the discussions on immigration should be part of a separate process.
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4:55 p.m.

The House has passed a bill to prevent a government shutdown this weekend.

The measure passed on a 235-193 vote Thursday, mostly along party lines, and would keep the government running through Dec. 22. The idea is to buy time for negotiations on unfinished bipartisan business on Capitol Hill, including the budget, a key children’s health program and aid to hurricane-slammed Puerto Rico.

Those negotiations are sure to be tricky. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi staked out a hard line on Thursday and insisted that any year-end deal would include help for immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children.

The immigrants are viewed sympathetically by the public and most lawmakers but face deportation in a few months because President Donald Trump reversed administrative protections provided to them by former President Barack Obama.