US Congress to meet as budget, immigration deadlines loom
Washington, Feb 5: As Republican infighting swirls and President Donald Trump complains he is getting zero cooperation from Democrats, bitterly divided US lawmakers return this week to face a shrinking window for reaching deals on immigration, federal spending and the debt.
Trump vowed during his State of the Union address last week to "extend an open hand" to both parties in pursuing an immigration deal that shields 1.8 million undocumented migrants from deportation. But his proposal has been savaged by opposition Democrats, and Trump's "open hand" soon wagged an accusatory finger.
"They Resist, Blame, Complain and Obstruct - and do nothing" to break the immigration stalemate, Trump tweeted a few days after his January 30 speech. Congress has also been haggling over spending caps for domestic programs and the military as they seek to finalize a budget for the remainder of 2018.
But Republican leaders have acknowledged they will not meet a Thursday deadline for a spending bill, and will have to pass yet another stopgap measure this week -- with help from Democrats -- to avoid a government shutdown.
House Speaker Paul Ryan said that while both sides were "making progress" on a budget agreement, a temporary spending bill was necessary to keep the lights on in Washington.
"We're still negotiating the contents and the duration of that," he said. Lawmakers are smarting from an embarrassing three-day shutdown last month, when Democrats refused to back a spending measure that did not break the immigration impasse.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said this time he did not expect another threat of a government shutdown, which Trump critics blamed on Republicans but McConnell pinned on Democrats. "There's no education in the second kick of a mule," the Kentucky lawmaker said.