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Monday, December 11, 2017

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Barack Obama has invited congressional leaders to the White House on Monday to discuss legislative priorities for this month, a White House official said.

The invitation was extended to House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, both Republicans, Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid and his House counterpart, Nancy Pelosi, the White House official said Friday on customary condition of anonymity.

The group is expected to talk about a continuing resolution, or CR, to temporarily fund the government when the 2017 fiscal year begins on Oct. 1. Congress has yet to approve full appropriations bills to fund the government in fiscal 2017, a senior Democratic congressional aide said.

They also will talk about funding to combat the outbreak of the mosquito-borne Zika virus, the aide said.

On Friday, House Republicans caucused on spending priorities, and several emerged from the meeting saying discussions focused on a handful of goals, including a CR that would expire before year end.

“The point is the priorities: Zika, defense and a CR that involves as little as possible in as short an amount of time,” Representative Ryan Zinke told Reuters.

House Republicans also said they discussed the possibility of separate spending bills, which they called mini-omnibus bills or “minibuses” that could provide longer-term funding for Zika, defense and the Department of the Interior later in the year.

On Thursday, Pelosi called for a CR that would include a year’s funding to combat Zika.

Republicans in Congress are planning a light legislative agenda, a strategy some say is partly aimed at bogging down Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton if she becomes president after the Nov. 8 election.

Senior congressional aides have told Reuters their goals for the coming months include bills to keep the government funded, to combat the spread of Zika and to renew laws guarding the nation’s water resources.

A U.S. Supreme Court seat vacant since Feb. 13 likely will remain unfilled until next year and a sweeping Pacific free-trade deal negotiated by Obama will be on hold, if not doomed.

(Additional reporting by David Morgan; writing by Doina Chiacu and David Alexander; editing by Steve Orlofsky and Jonathan Oatis)

Photo: U.S. President Barack Obama listens to a question during a news conference at the conclusion of his participation in the ASEAN Summits in Vientiane, Laos September 8, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

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