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House Republicans pursue short-term government funding bill

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives have decided to pursue a short-term measure to keep the government funded at current levels until March in order to give incoming President-elect Donald Trump more of a say on budget and appropriations issues, lawmakers said on Thursday.

The decision, which surfaced as House Republicans prepared to meet Vice President-elect Mike Pence, calls for replacing a funding measure that expires on Dec. 9 with a similar resolution that would run through March 31.

Lawmakers said the short-term measure would allow Trump to have greater input on setting funding priorities for the remainder of fiscal year 2017, which ends on Sept 30.

"I think the new, incoming government would like to have a say-so on how spending is allocated," House Speaker Paul Ryan told reporters. "And so we are working with ... the new Trump administration on the timing of that on the continuing resolution.”


Democrats and some Republicans described the decision as a mistake that could lead to a more difficult appropriations task next year.

Representative Hal Rogers, who chairs the House Appropriations Committee, expressed disappointment at the decision, which suspends months of work by lawmakers and their staffs on full-scale appropriations bills Congress had intended to enact before year end.

"I am extremely hopeful that the new Congress and the new administration will finish these bills," Rogers said in a statement, adding that his panel would immediately begin working on the new measure, known as a continuing resolution.

Representative Charlie Dent, a Republican member of Rogers' committee, called the decision a mistake following an election in which Democrats were able to increase their Senate minority.

"It will be harder to pass an omnibus in March," Dent said. "And we'll have a smaller margin in the senate to help us. I'd rather clear the decks for a new administration. But apparently the new administration would like to be able to put their imprint on this."

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said the continuing resolution would only perpetuate uncertainty about government funding.

"They're making a big mistake for themselves. They're going to have a kettle of fish in March that they can't even imagine," she said.

Some conservative House Republicans have sought a continuing resolution that would expire at the same time as the legislative limit on the government debt.

(Reporting by Susan Cornwell and David Morgan; Editing by Bill Trott and David Gregorio)