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Congress faces another budget deadline to avoid shutdown

By Sara Shayanian
Congress faces another budget deadline to avoid shutdown
The House aims to vote on the proposed budget by Wednesday, leaving the Senate just two days to avoid a Friday government shutdown. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

March 19 (UPI) -- Faced with the possible third government shutdown, Congress has five days to approve a $1.2 trillion spending bill that would provide the greatest increase in years.

The House aims to vote on the bill by Wednesday, leaving the Senate just two days to avoid a Friday government shutdown. The text of the spending bill is expected to be released late Monday.

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The proposal is one of the last opportunities lawmakers have to assure their pet projects and legislative priorities are funded before the November midterm elections.

"This is a moving train," Rep. Charlie Dent, R-Pa., told CNN. "That's why everybody wants to get on this one. It's a moving train, and there aren't going to be many vehicles like this between now and the election."

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As disagreements continue, lawmakers may have to pass another short-term funding bill to avoid another shutdown.

One of the biggest sticking points is whether to include $900 million for a rail project under the Hudson River. Lawmakers from New York and New Jersey could object to the bill if the transportation funding isn't included. President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly objected to the project, has threatened to veto the spending bill if it is included.

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"I'm optimistic that it will be in the omnibus bill," Rep. Leonard Lance, R-N.J., told The Hill, while Rep. Pete King, R-N.Y., said he spoke "extensively" to Trump about the rail tunnel.

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Other issues with the spending bill include abortion language.

Some Republicans are arguing that a rule known as the Hyde Amendment -- which restricts federal money from being used to fund abortion -- applies to any new funds aimed at lowering Affordable Care Act premiums.

"Make no mistake: Republicans are saying they will only agree to lower Americans' health costs if they can strip comprehensive health coverage away from millions of women at the same time," Henry Connelly, a spokesman for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, said in a statement last week.

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The spending bill is unlikely to include any provisions to extend protections for individuals under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a program that Trump ended in September.

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