Speed Reads

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Congressional Republicans scramble to avoid a government shutdown with a stopgap spending bill

House Republican leaders are trying to unite their caucus around a bare-bones spending package that would fund the government until Jan. 19, allowing them to leave for Christmas break without having to fight Democrats over issues like immigration, health care for 9 million low-income children, and other domestic programs. House Republicans emerged from a meeting Wednesday night still split over a defense spending measure that wouldn't pass in the Senate, $81 billion in disaster relief opposed by some fiscal conservatives, and health-care bills, but also wary of shutting down the government they control at midnight Friday, when the current continuing resolution expires.

"I can't think of a bigger act of political malpractice after a successful tax reform vote than to shut the government down," said Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.). "Talk about stepping on your own message. I mean, really, how dumb would that be?" The Senate will vote after the House.