• 52°

Congress doing bare minimum to keep government running

WASHINGTON — Congress is doing the bare minimum to keep the country running, readying a short-term spending bill to keep the lights on in government past Saturday, when President Donald Trump will mark his 100th day in office.

The short-term legislation will carry through next week, giving lawmakers more time to complete negotiations on a $1 trillion government-wide spending bill for the remainder of the 2017 budget year. The government is currently operating under spending legislation that expires Friday at midnight, so action is required before then.

In addition to the failure to come up with a spending deal that could pass ahead of Trump’s 100-day mark, the House GOP looked unlikely to give Trump a victory on health care before then. A revised health care bill has won the support of the hard-right House Freedom Caucus, holdouts on an earlier version that collapsed last month, but GOP leaders were struggling to round up votes from moderate-leaning Republicans.

“I don’t know if it’s bringing anyone over,” said Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., who said he had been lobbied by leadership but still opposed the legislation because it undoes an expansion of Medicaid under former President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act. “There’s much of Obamacare that has to be fixed. That part of it is critical,” Smith said.

Trump himself unleashed a tweetstorm of criticism of Democrats involved in negotiations on the spending bill, accusing them of trying to close national parks and jeopardize the safety of U.S. troops.