WASHINGTON – The United States Congress began on Monday bipartisan negotiations to reach a consensus on federal government funding to avoid a partial government shutdown.
A White House spokesperson, Hogan Gidley, confirmed on Monday that US President Donald Trump is set to meet leading Democrats Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer on Thursday, a day before funding for the federal government is due to expire.
House Republicans have suggested extending the current funds for another two weeks until Dec. 22 in order to reach a consensus with Democrat representatives.
Some Democrats have supported the idea of forcing a government shutdown unless Republicans agree to pass legislation protecting undocumented young immigrants, who arrived in the country as children and enjoyed protection from deportation due to an executive order signed by former president Barack Obama.
However, the Trump administration repealed the decree, and congressmen have until March to find a legal solution for them.
The two parties are also at odds over a replacement for the Affordable Care Act.
Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell said on Sunday that a shutdown would be ridiculous because the regulations protecting the young immigrants do not expire until March.
“There’s not going to be a government shutdown. It’s just not going to happen,” McConnell said.
“I don’t think the Democrats would be very smart to say they want to shut down the government over a non-emergency,” he added.
The provisional spending measure would give lawmakers two more weeks to raise the spending ceilings imposed in 2011, even as they seek a long-term spending agreement for the fiscal year 2018, which began on Oct. 1.