WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump’s push for a major military buildup suffered a setback on Thursday when the House of Representatives put plans on hold to fully fund the federal government through next Sept. 30 and instead resorted to temporary measures freezing spending at current levels.
With a Dec. 8 deadline rapidly approaching for either extending federal funding in some way or triggering a partial government shutdown, the House next week will advance a temporary patch, according to a senior aide, and try to provide money through Dec. 22.
That will give Congress more time to craft a second patch, the aide said, to operate the government through January.
While the moves, if successful, would keep the Pentagon running at last year’s levels, they are far from Republican hopes of handing Trump about $634 billion in fiscal 2018 funding for the military’s regular operations, $85 billion above last year.
For months, Republican and Democratic leaders in the House and Senate have been working behind the scenes to broker a deal on overall spending levels for the current fiscal year, which already is two months old.
Democrats are demanding increases in non-defense spending if military budgets are pumped up as Trump has demanded.
It is unclear whether Republicans in Congress and Trump will allow unrelated controversial measures to be attached to either of the temporary spending bills.
Democrats, whose votes normally are needed in the Republican-controlled Congress to pass spending bills, have been hoping to use their political leverage to win passage of an immigration measure by attaching it to an end-of-year appropriations bill.
That bill would provide legal protections to “Dreamers,” the hundreds of thousands of undocumented people who came to the United States as children and have established roots.
House Speaker Paul Ryan, asked about the possibility of attaching the immigration provision to a spending bill, said he wanted to resolve the issue. But he noted that Congress is under a March deadline to pass the Dreamers measure, saying “We’ve got other deadlines in front of that,” referring to the spending bills.
Reporting by Richard Cowan; editing by Dan Grebler and Marguerita Choy