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Congress reaches deal to keep government open through September

By Kelsey Snell

WASHINGTON – Congressional negotiators have reached an agreement on a spending package to fund the government through the end of September, alleviating fears of a government shutdown later this week, said several congressional aides.

Congress is expected to vote early this week on the package.The bipartisan agreement is expected to include increases for military spending and border security, a major priority for GOP leaders in Congress.

The agreement follows weeks of tense negotiations between Democrats and GOP leaders after President Donald Trump insisted that the deal include funds to begin construction of a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico. Trump eventually dropped that demand, leaving Congress to resolve lingering issues over several unrelated policy measures.

The details of the agreement were not yet clear on Sunday night.

House Republicans have struggled in recent weeks to keep their members focused on spending as White House officials and conservatives pressed leaders to revive plans for a vote on health-care legislation. The health-care fight became tangled last week with the spending talks as leaders worried that forcing a vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act risked angering Democrats whose votes are necessary to avoid a government shutdown.

Leaders worked last week to determine if there are enough votes in the House to pass a revised health-care bill brokered by the White House, the head of the conservative House Freedom Caucus and a top member of the moderate Tuesday Group.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and his top lieutenants announced Thursday that they did not have sufficient votes to be sure the health-care bill would pass but vowed to press on.

"We're still educating members," House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., told reporters after a late-night health care meeting last week. "We've been making great progress. As soon as we have the votes, we'll vote on it."

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