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Trump signs 2-week spending bill to avoid shutdown

UPDATED: Fri., Dec. 8, 2017

By Ken Thomas Associated Press

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump on Friday signed a spending bill to avoid a government shutdown and keep the federal government running through Dec. 22.

The president signed the two-week spending measure in private at the White House after the House and Senate acted to prevent a government shutdown this weekend. The funding reprieve comes as the White House and congressional leaders are negotiating a longer-term agreement, building off a Thursday meeting involving Trump and congressional leaders.

The White House and lawmakers said the bill will give them more time to negotiate several end-of-the-year agenda items, including the budget, a children’s health program and hurricane aid. Administration and congressional aides were continuing the talks on Friday.

“We hope that we’re going to make some great progress for our country. I think that will happen,” Trump said Thursday in the Oval Office. Added Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer of New York: “Funding the government is extremely important, helping our soldiers is very important and helping average citizens is very important. So we’re here in the spirit of: Let’s get it done.”

The two-week measure funds government agencies from the Defense Department to the IRS. It also makes money available to several states running out of funds for the Children’s Health Insurance Program. The popular health care program provides medical care to more than 8 million children.

The White House and lawmakers have been discussing relief from a budget freeze on the Pentagon and domestic agencies, extending the children’s health program and providing more disaster aid to hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico, Texas and Florida.

Negotiators are also seeking ways of addressing protections for immigrants who were brought to the country illegally as children.

Republican leaders have said they agree with the need to address immigration, including the almost 1 million immigrants given protections by former President Barack Obama. Trump has sought stronger border security and immigration enforcement as part of the talks and the White House said Thursday that “negotiations on immigration should be held separately on a different track” to avoid slowing down funding increases for the Pentagon.

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