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Wednesday December 13th, 2017 7:37PM

The Latest: White House encourages short-term spending fix

By The Associated Press
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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on the budget battle in Congress (all times local):

6:40 p.m.

The White House is encouraging Congress to pass a temporary spending measure to keep the government funded through December 22.

The Office of Management and Budget is encouraging the House to pass a continuing resolution to avoid a government shutdown Saturday, when most federal spending authority is set to expire, adding President Donald Trump would sign it.

The temporary measure would maintain government funding at existing levels and would fund the Children's Health Insurance Program through December. It would do so without the proposed changes to immigration policy or defense spending that have become a sticking point in long-term negotiations.

The president warned Wednesday that a shutdown "could happen," citing Democrats' immigration stance.

Trump is hosting congressional leaders at the White House Thursday to negotiate a longer-term funding bill.

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5:50 p.m.

The leader of the conservative House Freedom Caucus is predicting the House will approve a short-term spending measure averting a government shutdown over the weekend.

Wednesday's comment by North Carolina Republican Rep. Mark Meadows is the latest indication of an easing confrontation over the bill. House leaders have planned a vote for Thursday on the measure, and the Senate is poised to vote as well.

Members of the hard-right Freedom Caucus have been pressing leaders for budget curbs and an effort to quickly approve a full-year defense bill. Meadows says no agreements had been reached but adds, "No one wants a shutdown," including members of his group.

President Donald Trump said a shutdown was possible because of Democrats' demands on immigration. But a later White House statement took a more accommodating tone

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4:20 p.m.

The White House says President Donald Trump "looks forward" to meeting congressional leaders Thursday to address budget differences and avoid a partial government shutdown this weekend.

White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters released a statement hours after Trump said a federal closure was possible because Democrats were demanding to have "illegal immigrants pouring into our country."

The statement praises Congress' two top Democrats — Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi — for putting "their responsibility to the American people above partisanship" by attending the meeting.

Federal agencies will close unless lawmakers approve legislation financing them by midnight Friday.

House Republican leaders plan to push legislation through Congress this week keeping government open through Dec. 22. That's aimed at giving bargainers more time to resolve differences.

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1:05 p.m.

The top House Democrat says President Donald Trump is the "only person talking about a government shutdown."

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, in a tweet, responded on Wednesday to Trump's claim that a government shutdown "could happen" Saturday, and he blamed it on Democrats' stance on immigration.

On Capitol Hill, chances of a shutdown were diminishing as Republicans were talking about passing a two-week extension to avoid a shutdown at midnight on Friday.

Pelosi, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer and the top congressional Republicans plan to meet with Trump at the White House on Thursday.

Pelosi said: "Democrats are hopeful the president will be open to an agreement to address the urgent needs of the American people and keep government open."

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12:05 p.m.

President Donald Trump says a government shutdown "could happen" Saturday, and he is blaming it on Democrats' stance on immigration.

Speaking Wednesday before a Cabinet meeting, Trump blamed Democrats for opposing his border security and hardline immigration plans. He says they are "looking at something that is dangerous for our country."

Some Democrats have called for a legislative fix for those previously covered by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program before Trump canceled it earlier this year.

Democrats want the fix to be included in legislation to keep the government open past Friday. The White House has called for tighter immigration controls and increased border security funding in return.

Trump says of Democrats: "They want to have illegal immigrants pouring into our country."

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9:40 a.m.

The hard-right House Freedom Caucus is showing an openness to a deal that would prevent a partial government shutdown this weekend.

The group's members say Republicans must focus on passing the GOP's prized tax bill.

The North Carolina congressman who leads the caucus says any distraction from taxes — including a shutdown — would be a problem.

Mark Meadows and several others in the roughly 30-member group aren't ruling out backing a leadership-backed spending measure that would expire Dec. 22. They plan to talk to leaders later Wednesday.

The caucus has wanted the spending bill to run an additional week. They say the shorter version would tempt Republicans to cut a deal with Democrats so Congress could go home for Christmas.

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2:50 a.m.

Top Republicans are trying to smooth over GOP divisions over the budget as leaders work to push through a short-term spending bill by week's end and avert a partial government shutdown.

Republican leaders have postponed a planned House vote on the temporary spending measure until Thursday. That buys time to iron out disputes with conservatives seeking tighter budget curbs.

The delay shows the clout that conservatives hold.

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