December 21, 2017 / 5:24 PM / in a year

FACTBOX-Big-ticket items at center of U.S. Congress funding battle

    Dec 21 (Reuters) - The U.S. Congress on Thursday scrambled
to draft a temporary funding bill to prevent a federal
government shutdown ahead of a Friday deadline, with lawmakers
about to leave Washington for a long holiday break.             
    Republicans control the House of Representatives and Senate
but disagreements between the two chambers, along with
differences between Republicans and Democrats, make for
difficult decisions. Here are the big issues in play.
    Money expires at midnight on Friday for the operation of
most federal agencies. That is because Congress has failed to
approve the regular appropriations bills for the fiscal year
that began on Oct. 1 and Washington has been operating on a
series of temporary funding bills.
    The House is proposing another temporary extension - one
that would run through Jan. 19. Senate Republican Leader Mitch
McConnell said on Thursday his chamber is ready to act quickly
on whatever passes the House, although it is not clear whether
the Senate would seek to extend the funding for a longer period.
    President Donald Trump is pushing for a significant increase
in defense spending. House Republican leaders want to include
some of that money in the stopgap funding bill.
    Some conservative lawmakers are pushing for a bigger
increase but Democrats in the Senate are expected to block it
until negotiators can reach a deal on coupling more non-defense
spending with a bigger military budget.
    Congress may approve $81 billion to help Puerto Rico, the
U.S. Virgin Islands and several states hit by severe hurricanes,
wildfires and other natural disasters, either as a part of the
spending bill or as a stand-alone measure.             
    The Children's Health Insurance Program, which helps provide
medical care to nearly 9 million children in low-income
families, could get $2.85 billion to cover expenses through
March as lawmakers seek a more permanent solution.             
    The Senate might attach a bipartisan measure that maintains
healthcare subsidies for low-income people participating in the
Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. Many House
Republican lawmakers dislike that idea.

    The National Security Agency's warrantless internet
surveillance program under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance
Act could be extended through January 19 as lawmakers try to
reconcile competing versions of such legislation in the House
and Senate.              
    Legislation to protect "Dreamers" from deportation is not
expected to be included, despite Democrats' push to resolve the
issue by year's end. Negotiators are trying to reach a deal on
helping immigrants, many from Mexico and Central America,
brought to the United States illegally as children. The issue is
expected to come back to life in early 2018.             

 (Reporting by Richard Cowan and Andy Sullivan; Editing by Caren
Bohan and Kevin Drawbaugh)
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