Date
18 December 2017
John Boehner (left) and Barack Obama find themselves on the same side for a change. Photo: Bloomberg
John Boehner (left) and Barack Obama find themselves on the same side for a change. Photo: Bloomberg

White House mobilizes as shutdown deadline looms

The White House made last-ditch efforts Thursday to gain Democratic support to rescue a US$1.1 trillion spending bill, just hours ahead of a midnight deadline for the US government to shut down, Reuters reported.

Officials from President Barack Obama to staff at the Department of Education were phoning Democrats in Congress to ask them to set aside objections to a financial provision and pass the measure to fund most of the government until September.

Obama sent his chief of staff, Denis McDonough, to Capitol Hill to speak at a rare evening meeting of House Democrats.

But the outcome remained uncertain even though Obama and Republican House Speaker John Boehner found themselves in the unusual situation of working together to pass the bill.

As Obama and his deputies lobbied Democrats, Boehner launched a similar effort to bring reluctant conservative Republicans on board after delaying a mid-afternoon vote to drum up more support.

Liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans were still urging their colleagues to oppose it.

A provision killing planned restrictions on derivatives trading by large banks has incensed the left, while those on the right are unhappy that the bill fails to withdraw funding for Obama’s immigration reform.

Congressional aides in both parties maintained that Congress would not allow the government to shut down.

Republicans had prepared backup plans for short-term funding extensions of up to three months in case the bill fails, the aides said.

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