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Capitol chaos: Infighting stalls funding effort

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President Trump’s efforts to pass a massive government spending bill ran into turbulence on Thursday when a congressional panel rejected his proposed restrictions on “sanctuary cities” and budget riders that would scuttle or delay environmental protections.

The White House and the president still are trying to make headway on policy items, including tax cuts and changes to Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid. But significant policy disagreements have emerged in those areas, which has unsettled lawmakers who need to reach a deal before the year-end deadline.

The efforts to pass the fiscal 2019 budget are taking on special significance after Democrats won control of the House of Representatives, and officials said it was increasingly likely that some measure of compromise would be needed to keep government funded beyond Dec. 8.

Late on Thursday, Congress rejected the White House-proposed restrictions on so-called sanctuary cities, such as New York, which forbid local governments from cooperating with federal immigration officials. The vote was 35 to 61 in the House Appropriations Committee.

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The White House had said it would block future grants to sanctuary cities that don’t allow local officials to inquire about the immigration status of residents. But committee chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen, a New Jersey Republican, said the policy proposal was premature and would create an “administrative overreach” that would hurt New York, California and other jurisdictions, many of which receive billions of dollars in federal funding a year.

At the same time, lawmakers rejected the Trump administration’s proposal to use a critical fund to clean up Superfund sites. The proposal would have cut $105 million in funding to the $650 million program for environmentally contaminated sites, which are administered by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Another bill in the works is the House budget resolution that Trump and congressional leaders will use to write the spending bill. The resolution is expected to largely conform to the spending outline in the $1.5 trillion deal struck by lawmakers in August, though lawmakers are working on the final language in the hopes of keeping Democrats from digging in on any policy provisions.

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Lawmakers have coalesced around passing a modest farm bill that both parties say will ensure that an expiration of food stamps in December will be nothing more than a political flashpoint, given that the measure is expected to provide an $8 billion increase over the next 10 years to the popular benefit program.

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