The Latest: Senate approves bill to avert shutdown


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.

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3:55 p.m.

President Donald Trump's meeting with congressional leaders has relocated from the Oval Office to the White House Situation Room for a briefing on military readiness.

Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said Thursday that the leadership was "receiving an update on our military by Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis."

The group is convening to continue negotiations on critical end-of-year spending legislation, with Democrats and Republicans deeply divided on defense and immigration priorities.

Both sides are expressing optimism about averting a government shutdown at midnight Friday, when the current spending authority expires, and later this month.

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3:35 p.m.

President Donald Trump and Democratic and Republican congressional leaders are sounding an optimistic tone as they sit down at the White House.

Trump said Thursday that he hopes the group will make good progress as they prepare to discuss plans to avert a government shutdown and reach an end-of-year budget agreement.

He says: "We're all here as a very friendly, well-unified group."

Democratic Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell also say they hope to come to an agreement.

Schumer and House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi skipped a meeting with him last week after Trump tweeted that he doubted he could reach any deal with them.

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12:10 p.m.

House Speaker Paul Ryan is suggesting that House Republicans have enough votes to fund the federal government through Dec. 22, even if all Democrats vote against the measure.

The Wisconsin Republican says, "I feel good where we are." He called keeping the government running "just basic governing."

Congress faces a midnight Friday deadline to avert a partial government shutdown. The House is scheduled to vote Thursday on a bill that would fund the government through Dec. 22 while lawmakers negotiate a longer spending bill.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi says Democrats don't intend to vote for the measure because it doesn't include funding for their priorities.

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11:15 a.m.

The drama over whether the House will pass legislation preventing a weekend partial government shutdown is essentially over.

The leader of the conservative House Freedom Caucus says Republicans' chief vote counter has told him there are enough votes to pass a short-term spending bill Thursday, keeping agencies open until Dec. 22.

Republican Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina says his group will likely provide leaders with the needed votes. Conservatives had threatened to oppose the legislation.

Meadows says they want to avoid distractions from the tax bill Republicans plan to push through Congress this month.

Meadows says GOP House Speaker Paul Ryan has promised to try passing future legislation funding the military for the year and leaving fights with Democrats over domestic spending for later.

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3:45 a.m.

Congress seems set to prevent a weekend government shutdown. But lawmakers and President Donald Trump still have longer-range disputes to settle over spending, immigration and other issues before they can declare budget peace.

Many on both sides have decided a headline-grabbing federal closure would be a political blunder, at least for now. So the House planned to approve legislation Thursday financing federal agencies through Dec. 22. The Senate seemed ready to follow.

Without legislation, many agencies would run out of money after midnight Friday and grind to a close.

The two-week spending measure is aimed at giving both parties' bargainers more time to reach longer-term budget decisions.

To jumpstart that negotiating, Trump and congressional leaders agreed to meet Thursday an attempt to reach agreements.

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