(GFR Media)

WASHINGTON – Congress gears for final-stretch fight to reach an agreement over the budget to avoid a partial government shutdown over Christmas.

With seven pending budget projects, covering 25 percent of the federal government payroll, Congress has until Friday midnight to approve the rest of the funding for fiscal year 2020, a new resolution to extend current expenses or to partially shut down some agencies.

Trump´s demand for $5 billion for a U.S-Mexico border wall threatens any agreement that will avoid sending thousands of employees –including thousands in Puerto Rico- home without pay for Christmas.

Democrats made it clear that they will not grant more than $ 1,6 billion for that purpose. "We need to make a substantial investment in the integrity of our border and we need to close out the year´s appropriation process," said Senate Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Kentucky) yesterday, when opening what they hope will be the last week of the 115th Congress. 

While negotiations between Republicans and Democrats continue, it will not be until tomorrow night that the House returns to session.

Any decision on the budget will define the opportunities, if any, of measures that Puerto Rican authorities are promoting, such as an addition $ 600 million funding for NPA, new Medicaid funds or an adjustment in refunds provided to Medicare Advantage medical plans in Puerto Rico.

Uncertain budgets

About one-quarter of the government, including the departments of Homeland Security, Agriculture, Justice, Treasury, Commerce and Housing are among the agencies whose budgets for this fiscal years have not been decided. 

Last week, President Trump met with Democratic leaders, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi (California) and Senator Charles Schumer (New York). He then said he would be “proud” to have a partial government shutdown and that he can be blamed for it.

Schumer said that the President Trump has to understand that he does not have to votes –either in the House or the Senate- for the wall.

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