December 20, 2017 / 12:24 AM / 2 months ago

Factbox - Big-ticket items at center of Congress funding battle

(Reuters) - The U.S. Congress is weighing military spending, healthcare and other major decisions tied to a temporary funding bill to keep the government operating beyond Friday, as lawmakers rush to begin a year-end recess.

Republicans control the House of Representatives and Senate, but disagreements between the two chambers, along with differences between Republicans and Democrats, make for potentially difficult days ahead.

The following are the big initiatives under consideration:

STOPGAP FUNDING

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, 2018. It is unclear whether the Senate would stick with that date or seek a slightly later one to give Congress more time to write legislation funding agencies through Sept. 30.

MILITARY SPENDING

President Donald Trump is pushing for a significant increase in defense spending. Conservatives in Congress want to include that money in the stopgap funding bill this week. But Senate Democrats are expected to block it until negotiators can reach a deal on coupling more non-defense spending with a bigger military budget.

DISASTER AID

Congress is likely to include $81 billion to help Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and several states recover from severe hurricanes, wildfires and other natural disasters.

CHIP

The Children’s Health Insurance Program, which helps provide medical care to nearly 9 million children in low-income families, is slated for a five-year renewal by the House. But the Senate might balk at the way it is structured. It was unclear whether it would opt for temporary funding.

OBAMACARE

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.

FISA

The National Security Agency’s warrantless internet surveillance program under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act could be renewed, but there are competing versions of such legislation in the House and Senate.

IMMIGRATION

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 the immigrants, many from Mexico and Central America, who were brought to the United States illegally as children. The issue is expected to come back to life in early 2018.

Reporting by Richard Cowan in Washington; Editing by Caren Bohan and Peter Cooney

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