NEWS

    Congress Gears Up for Fight Over Spending After Failure of Health-Care Bill

    Updated: March 29, 2017 at 7:49 am EST  See Comments

    WSJ — President Donald Trump and GOP leaders enter their next big battle facing stubborn opposition in both parties that increases Republicans’ worries that they will need more Democratic support than previously expected to avert a government shutdown by the end of April.

    It is a sign of the new reality in Washington after Mr. Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan failed to persuade the House’s most conservative Republicans, as well as centrists, to back a bill to replace the Affordable Care Act. The failure derailed the GOP leadership and the new administration’s top legislative priority and has put unexpected questions before both parties about their paths forward.

    For Republicans leaders, the main challenge is the House Freedom Caucus, an alliance of the most conservative Republicans who successfully defied the White House to sink the health bill.

    For Democrats, unified opposition to the bill helped give the party a surprising legislative win and deprived Mr. Trump of an early victory. Their success in sticking together has left the party less incentive to compromise with Republicans, who will likely need them to supply votes for the fiscal measures, as they often did under Mr. Ryan’s predecessor, Speaker John Boehner.

    The most immediate test comes at the end of April, when the government’s current funding expires. Lawmakers have only 12 legislative workdays before April 28, the date by which they will need to pass a new spending bill or trigger a partial government shutdown. More distantly, Congress must approve an increase in the nation’s debt limit, likely by this fall, and then fund the government for fiscal 2018, which begins in October.

    Some Republicans say they are worried about the prospect of repeating the experience of 2013, when the party drew most of the blame for a partial shutdown related to a fight over the health law.

    Asked if chances of a government shutdown were rising, Rep. Tom Cole (R., Okla.) said, “If we don’t get focused on it, there’s always a risk.’’

    “The government can’t shut down,’’ he said. “If you have a Republican Congress shutting down a Republican government, that’s just about as politically stupid as it gets.”


    The remainder of this article is available in its entirety at Wall Street Journal

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