Lawmaker says GOP has the votes to avert government shutdown

One of the House’s conservative leaders indicated Thursday that Republicans have the votes needed to approve legislation preventing a weekend partial government shutdown.

With Senate passage also considered likely, the remarks by Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., seemed to erase any doubt that Congress would approve legislation keeping federal agencies afloat through Dec. 22. Their money runs out at midnight Friday without approval of fresh funding.

But hours before President Donald Trump was to bargain with congressional leaders at the White House over long-term budget decisions, Meadows, who heads the hard-right House Freedom Caucus, says the group would oppose any agreement they feel allows excessive federal spending.

“I want to avoid a headline that says President Trump’s administration just passes the highest spending levels in U.S. history,” Meadows told two reporters. “There will be zero support on numbers that are too high, regardless of anybody’s position on that.”

Meadows said House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., told him Republicans have the votes they’ll need to approve the short-term spending measure Thursday. Freedom Caucus members will likely give leaders whatever votes they need to pass the legislation, Meadows said.

Many conservatives had been threatening to oppose the measure. Meadows says they’ll help it pass to avoid distractions from the GOP drive to push their $1.5 trillion tax bill through Congress this month.

He also says House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., promised he’d fight in coming weeks to pass a full-year budget for the military and leave fights with Democrats over domestic spending for later. It is unclear how that strategy would work, since Republicans control the Senate 52-48 and will need at least eight Democratic votes to pass any spending legislation.

In another brewing battle, Meadows said conservatives would strongly oppose any spending bill with provisions extending protections for hundreds of thousands of immigrants who arrived in the U.S. illegally as children. Trump ended safeguards against deportation three months ago, but Democrats are demanding their revival and Trump has expressed openness to restoring them.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., told reporters Thursday that lawmakers “will not leave here” without approval of language helping those immigrants.

The prospects for successful White House talks were buffeted Wednesday when the impulsive Trump blurted to reporters that a shutdown…

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