Government Shutdown Looms as House Moves Toward Budget Vote

More ominously, Virginia’s two Democratic senators, Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, whose constituents include hundreds of thousands of federal workers, announced together that they too would oppose the temporary spending bill in the Senate. For the stopgap bill to succeed in the Senate, Republican leaders need at least nine Democrats — probably more, given several expected Republican defections — to support it.

“Congress should remain in session with no recess until we work out a long-term bipartisan budget deal that addresses all issues,” Mr. Warner and Mr. Kaine said in a joint statement.

Against that darkening backdrop, House leaders pressed forward with a planned vote on the temporary spending bill, which would extend government funding through Feb. 16.

Not only were Democrats opposed but many members of the House Freedom Caucus, a group of hard-line conservatives, expressed misgivings.

Representative Patrick T. McHenry, Republican of North Carolina and the chief deputy whip, offered an assurance that the stopgap bill would pass the House. But the vote-counting math remained in question. Representative Mark Meadows of North Carolina, the leader of the Freedom Caucus, said that more than 20 of his members were opposed or undecided on the bill.

Mr. Meadows, sounding glum, expressed frustration that Congress was looking to pass its fourth stopgap spending measure for the 2018 fiscal year.

“Three strikes, you’re out,” he said, adding: “I guess the speaker has the best plan, and so we’ll just see how that works out.”

A tweet by Mr. Trump on Thursday morning launched a day’s worth of confusion. Republican leaders had spent Wednesday pressuring Democrats to vote for the spending bill, arguing that opposing it would effectively block a six-year extension of the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, which they had included in the spending bill. Funding for the program lapsed at the end of September.

Yet on Thursday morning, Mr. Trump suggested that the funding should not be part of the stopgap bill, writing on Twitter: “CHIP should be part of a long term solution, not a 30 Day, or short term, extension!”

Hours after Mr. Trump’s tweet, the White House tried to walk it back. A White House spokesman, Raj Shah, said that the president supported the House’s stopgap bill.

But Democrats pressed their advantage. Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the minority leader, brought up the tweet and questioned whether it meant that the president opposes the stopgap measure that congressional leaders from his own party are trying to pass.

“Who knows?” Mr. Schumer asked. “It’s a mess.”

Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the Democratic leader, made clear that she was unmoved by the inclusion of CHIP funding in the stopgap bill.

“This is like giving you a bowl of doggy doo, put a cherry on top and call it a chocolate sundae,” she said.

Traveling in Pennsylvania, Mr. Trump accused Democrats of provoking a shutdown to drown out discussion of his successful economic policies.

“I really believe the Democrats would like to see a shutdown in order to get off that subject,” Mr. Trump told reporters before delivering a speech.

Despite the turmoil, Republican leaders appeared committed on Thursday to keeping the children’s health funding in the stopgap bill. Mr. Ryan said he had spoken to Mr. Trump earlier in the morning and that the president “fully supports passing what we’re bringing to the floor today.”

Even if the House manages to pass the bill, the Senate would still need to give its approval in order to avert a shutdown early Saturday morning, and Democrats would be needed for passage given that the spending bill requires 60 votes in the Senate.

“We’re either going to act like 13-year-olds or not,” said Senator John Kennedy, Republican of Louisiana. “Our first job is to keep government going, and if you’re going to shut her down, it better be for a damn good reason.”

He added that he had not yet heard a worthy reason.

But Democrats appeared ready to block the spending bill, and a senior aide said the caucus had enough votes to do exactly that.

Eighteen members of the Senate Democratic caucus voted for the last stopgap measure in December. But several of them have already said they would oppose the latest bill or have suggested they were leaning in that direction, including Mr. Warner, Mr. Kaine, Senator Angus King of Maine and Senator Jon Tester of Montana.

Mr. Tester, who is up for re-election this year in a state that Mr. Trump won by 20 percentage points, said that a stopgap bill that included CHIP funding but left other issues unresolved was “not what we’re looking for.”

Democrats have been under heavy pressure to oppose any spending bill that does not protect the young immigrants, known as Dreamers, who are now shielded from deportation from an Obama-era initiative, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, that Mr. Trump moved in September to end.

If the stopgap bill passes, Mr. Schumer said, “there will be no incentive to negotiate, and we’ll be right back here in a month with the same problems at our feet.”

Lawmakers were growing frustrated.

“I don’t want to play shutdown politics,” said Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. “I think it’s a bad idea and a pox on both parties.”

His Colorado colleague, Senator Michael Bennet, a Democrat, agreed.

“It just makes us all look terrible,” Mr. Bennet said.

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