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Congress approves measure to prevent a partial government shutdown for another 2 weeks

The looming Christmas holiday could diffuse the potential of a shutdown.

Senate Republicans Hold Conference Meeting To Elect Leadership Positions Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images
Li Zhou is a politics reporter at Vox, where she covers Congress and elections. Previously, she was a tech policy reporter at Politico and an editorial fellow at the Atlantic.

Congress is punting its funding showdown for another two weeks — just in time for the Christmas holiday.

In the wake of former President George H.W. Bush’s death over the weekend, both congressional leaders and President Donald Trump signaled an openness to delaying their funding face-off, at least for a little while. And on Thursday, the House and the Senate made it official by approving a continuing resolution, a legislative measure that will keep the government fully funded through December 21.

By taking this step, they’re putting off a fight over government funding that’s likely to come to a head as Christmas rapidly approaches, though the impending holiday could actually work to diffuse some of that tension.

Ahead of the late December deadline, lawmakers must pass seven spending bills — a package which doles out money for government agencies including the Department of Homeland Security as well as the Justice Department — to avert a partial government shutdown. This week’s passage of a temporary appropriations measure is a stop gap, but kicks the actual resolution of any conflicts about this legislation further down the line.

Well, one conflict, specifically.

While lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have already said they’re not particularly interested in a partial government shutdown over the spending bills, President Trump has threatened to veto DHS funding that doesn’t meet a $5 billion demand he’s made for a border wall.

As things stand, a House version of the legislation provides $5 billion in funding for border security, including physical fencing, while a Senate version includes $1.6 billion for such efforts. It’s worth noting that although this money isn’t dedicated to constructing a “wall,” it would be used to establish physical barriers along the border.

Senate Democrats have said they aren’t interested in providing more than the agreed-upon $1.6 billion for border security — leaving the door open for a possible stalemate, since their buy-in remains crucial in the upper chamber where 60 votes are needed to pass the spending bills. In the past, Democrats have been more open to negotiating increases to such funding if a concession — like a legislative fix for DACA recipients — was offered up in return but House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has already made it clear that this kind of bargaining isn’t happening this time around, according to Politico’s Jake Sherman.

Interestingly enough, the holiday break hanging over the new December 21 funding deadline could curb any appetite for a standoff since lawmakers would like to wrap things up before Christmas.

As a result, Trump — the main person responsible for pushing a possible shutdown in the first place — could wind up caving and signing the spending bills — which could include at least one continuing resolution, much as he has on multiple occasions before.

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