Countdown begins as Congress races toward a government shutdown

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House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., called out Senate Democrats to "stop holding children's health insurance hostage" in this "reckless shutdown" for a "shakedown strategy" to get themselves a favorable immigration deal.

"This eye-popping number is a testament to Speaker Ryan, House Republicans, and the agenda that they led the fight on in 2017", said Kevin Seifert, executive director of Team Ryan, in a statement.

"Senate Democrats shut down this government, and now Senate Democrats need to open this government back up", said Ryan in the speech.

Ryan is transferring $32 million of those funds to the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) ahead of the midterm elections, his team said in a release on Thursday.

A divided House voted Thursday to prevent a government shutdown after an eleventh-hour deal brought conservatives aboard. Just five red-state Democrats voted for the C.R. - four Republicans opposed.

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Thus, the strategy was created to produce either a win with virtually no GOP concessions, or a government shutdown that could pretty cleanly be blamed on Democrats. The nuclear option would allow the Senate to avoid a filibuster by the Democrats and pass the long-term budget using a simple majority of 51 votes rather than the required 60 votes. Republicans were all but daring Democrats to scuttle the bill and force a shutdown because of immigration, which they said would hurt Democratic senators seeking re-election in 10 states that Trump carried in 2016.

Ryan said Trump was leaving "room for negotiation".

While Ryan invoked the importance of the military to persuade his colleagues to end the shutdown, a lapse in funding would not actually shut down the military, as it is considered an essential function of the federal government. Democrats said without these protections, they would not support a spending bill, but said Republicans have made it clear they will pass an immigration plan that includes these protections prior to the March 5 deadline, when current protections expire.

Government funding would be expiring on Friday and would set the Congress up for another short-term spending measure, which could allow the government to remain open until middle of February. Both parties blame the other for causing the shutdown, but talks are expected to resume Monday to try and come to a resolution. Democrats want a deal to protect around 700,000 immigrants from deportation who arrived in the U.S.as children and now are here illegally.

In the event of a shutdown, food inspections and other vital services would continue, as would Social Security, other federal benefit programs and most military operations.

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