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Congress approves bill to avert government shutdown for a week

Congress has sent President Donald Trump a short-term spending bill preventing a partial government shutdown on Saturday, his 100th day in office.

But legislators failed to take action on two measures Mr Trump would have loved to claim as victories.

Bipartisan talks are continuing over remaining issues in a 1 trillion dollar (£773 billion) measure financing federal agencies until September 30, and Republican leaders have given up trying to win enough votes to push a health care overhaul through the House until at least next week.

The temporary spending bill will keep agency doors open for another week. The Senate sent the measure to Mr Trump for his signature by voice vote after the House approved it easily on a 382-30 vote.

The White House had pressured Republican leaders to push legislation replacing Barack Obama's health care law through the House this week, in time to give Mr Trump bragging rights about it, but late on Thursday, House leaders abandoned that effort for now after falling short of the votes needed.

"As soon as we have the votes, we'll vote on it," House majority leader Kevin McCarthy said.

Minority Democrats had threatened to withhold support for the temporary spending bill unless there was a bipartisan deal on the long-term 1 trillion dollar measure, but they voted for it anyway, citing expectations that disagreements would be resolved.

The struggle over both bills was embarrassing to the Republicans, who have Mr Trump in the White House and majorities in Congress. The party would have preferred to not be labouring to keep agencies functioning or approve a health care overhaul, the gold standard of campaign promises for the past seven years.

The bipartisan budget talks had progressed smoothly after the White House dropped a threat to withhold payments that help lower-income Americans pay their medical bills and Mr Trump abandoned a demand for money for a border wall with Mexico.

On the health care bill, House Republican leaders are still scraping together votes from their own rank-and-file to rescue it.

Republicans have recast it to let states escape a requirement under Mr Obama's 2010 law that insurers charge healthy and seriously ill customers the same rates. They could also be exempted from Mr Obama's mandate that insurers cover a list of services like hospitalisation and substance abuse treatment and from its prohibition against charging older customers more than triple their rates for younger ones.

The overall legislation would cut the Medicaid programme for the poor, eliminate Mr Obama's fines for people who do not buy insurance and provide generally skimpier subsidies.

AP

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