Congress approves stopgap spending bill averting government shutdown, for now

Congress on Thursday approved a short-term spending bill to avoid a partial government shutdown, punting the thorny debate over border wall funding and other issues until later in the month.

The stopgap spending bill, which was swiftly approved by the Senate after passage early Thursday afternoon in the House, would fund the government through Dec. 21.

Congress had faced a Friday deadline to reach a budget agreement, but lawmakers decided to effectively delay that fight amid this week’s services for the late President George H.W. Bush. President Trump is expected to sign the measure.

But the disagreements are far from resolved.

Seven of the government spending bills remain unfinished. The most controversial is the Homeland Security Appropriations bill, which would include border wall funding.

Apart from the complications of needing bipartisan support in the Senate to overcome a filibuster, House Republicans right now do not have the votes to pass a bill with or without the $5 billion in wall funding sought by Trump.

On one hand, conservatives want full wall funding. On the other, Democrats remain opposed – and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who aims to reclaim the speakership next month, faces the risk of a backlash from her caucus if she accepts a deal containing what her rank-and-file consider too much wall money.

Amid the disagreement, Trump is set to meet with Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer at the White House next week.