From left, House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wis., speaking, and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., right, meet with reporters following a closed-door GOP strategy session at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2018. The GOP-controlled House is slated Tuesday to pass a plan to keep the government open for six more weeks while Washington grapples with a potential follow-up budget pact and, perhaps, immigration legislation. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

The Latest: House Democrats cancel Maryland retreat

February 06, 2018 - 8:46 pm

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on Congress and spending legislation (all times local):

8:30 p.m.

House Democrats have canceled their annual retreat as lawmakers struggle to approve a short-term spending bill to avoid another government shutdown.

Democrats were set to gather on Maryland's Eastern Shore from Wednesday through Friday to develop and promote a strategy for the midterm elections.

A spokeswoman said Tuesday night that, "given the pressing issues Congress will likely vote on over the next three days," the Democrats will hold their "United for A Better Tomorrow" conference at the Capitol.

The House approved a short-term spending bill Tuesday but changes were expected in the Senate. Congress faces a midnight Thursday deadline to avoid a second partial government shutdown after a three-day shutdown last month.

Former Vice President Joe Biden was scheduled to give the keynote speech Wednesday.


6:55 p.m.

The House has passed a temporary government-wide funding bill that would prevent the government from shutting down at midnight Thursday.

The mostly party-line vote sends the bill to the Senate, which appears likely to change it and send it back.

Senate leaders are hoping to seal a long-sought agreement to add almost $300 billion over two years to the budgets for the Pentagon and domestic agencies, which otherwise face a budget freeze.

Neither Democrats nor Republicans on Capitol Hill want a repeat of last month's government shutdown.

But President Donald Trump unexpectedly raised the possibility Tuesday of closing things down again if he can't have his way on immigration, saying, "I'd love to see a shutdown if we can't get this stuff taken care of."


2:50 p.m.

President Donald Trump is calling for another government shutdown if Democrats refuse to back his proposed changes to U.S. immigration law.

"I'd love to see a shutdown," if Democrats refuse to back his immigration proposals.

The president commented during a White House round-table on the MS-13 gang, where he also blasted the "stupidity" of U.S. immigration law.

Trump has proposed steep cuts in legal immigration and increases in border security, including a southern border wall, in exchange for continued protection from deportation for hundreds of thousands of immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children and are living here illegally. Democrats have balked at Trump's proposals.

Disagreement over immigration forced a three-day government shutdown in January.


11:10 a.m.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is laying out the dire details of Congress' failure to pass a budget. He told a House committee Tuesday that without stable funding the Pentagon won't be able to pay troops, recruit needed soldiers and airmen, adequately maintain ships or keep enough ammunition on hand to deter war.

Mattis told the House Armed Services Committee that military aircraft will have to be grounded because there won't be enough spare parts and maintenance.

Congress has failed to pass a budget for the fiscal year that began last Oct. 1. The latest temporary funding measure expires at midnight Thursday.

Mattis says the U.S. military can't win tomorrow's wars with yesterday's weapons and equipment. He warns of growing competition and threats from China, Russia, North Korea, Iran and extremist organizations.


12:39 a.m.

House Republican leaders are proposing to keep the government open for another six weeks by adding a year's worth of Pentagon funding to a stopgap spending bill.

But Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer says that approach, fully funding the Defense Department but only providing temporary money for the rest of the government, won't go anywhere in the Senate.

Aides and lawmakers say budget talks in the Senate are moving toward an agreement for whopping increases in Pentagon spending as well as domestic programs.

As Congress works to avoid a shutdown at midnight Thursday, the question remains whether House Democrats will approve of a spending agreement if there isn't much progress in addressing the issue of immigrants left vulnerable with the looming expiration of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

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