The House of Representatives passed a stopgap spending bill Tuesday night, which includes funding for several healthcare programs, as the Senate eyes a more long-term deal.
The House voted 245-182 to pass the measure, mostly along party lines. The legislation would fund community health centers for two years, alongside funds for teaching health centers and the National Health Services Corps. The bill also includes language that would delay $5 billion in planned Medicaid cuts to the disproportionate share hospitals program.
However, the legislation would cut $2.85 billion over 10 years from a public health fund established in the Affordable Care Act and apply it to other healthcare programs, The Hill reported, a move criticized by public health advocates.
"The House’s spending proposal robs Peter to pay Paul," American Public Health Association Executive Director Georges C. Benjamin, M.D., said in a statement. "The public health workforce is eager to tackle the threats ahead of us, but can only do so if Congress provides the resources to do our jobs."
However, the House bill is likely to undergo significant rewrites in the Senate to pave the way for a long-term spending deal, the Associated Press reported. The Senate negotiations, which have included both Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., have sidelined Democrats' demands for immigration reform and instead focus on increased military spending and funding for opioid epidemic programs and disaster relief.
The Senate's proposal would also include additional funding for the troubled Veterans Affairs health system, according to the AP.
The Senate failure to reach agreement on a spending bill last month led to a three-day shutdown of the government as Democrats tried to force Republicans to discuss immigration policy. Congress has until Thursday night to pass another spending bill or it will face a second shutdown in as many months.
And though Senate leaders have been optimistic they'll reach a deal, President Donald Trump has stoked tensions over immigration, The Washington Post reported. At a White House event that centered on the crime risks posted by some immigrants, Trump said he would support a second shutdown if Democrats don't acquiesce to his immigration plan.
"I'd love to see a shutdown if we don't get this stuff taken care of," Trump said. "If we have to shut it down because the Democrats don't want safety ... let's shut it down."
He expressed a similar sentiment in a tweet on Monday:
Any deal on DACA that does not include STRONG border security and the desperately needed WALL is a total waste of time. March 5th is rapidly approaching and the Dems seem not to care about DACA. Make a deal!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 5, 2018
The Senate's deal faces another hurdle in the House's most conservative caucus, which is unlikely to back a bill that could include provisions to raise the government's debt ceiling, the AP reported.
Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., who leads the House Freedom Caucus, said he would not back the bipartisan deal, but said that the caucus may not derail its passage as increased defense spending and other provisions appeal to other Republicans.