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Senate Democrats are threatening to shut down the government over miners' benefits

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Senate Democrats from coal mining states are stalling the passage of a stop-gap spending bill over a provision on retired miners' health benefits. 

The current federal budget will run out at midnight on Friday, and if the Senate can't get the bill -- which would fund the government through April -- passed by then, we're looking at a shutdown, but probably a short one. 

Coal miners' benefits 

A group of Democrats from red states want Republicans to agree to a one-year extension on health benefits for retired coal miners. 

The lawmakers who are putting up a fight are up for re-election in 2018 and could be hoping to appeal to white working-class voters who supported Donald Trump in the general election. 

Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia is spearheading the effort. 

Mitch McConnell urged Democrats on Friday to "take yes for an answer."

A short shutdown 

The Senate has to vote unanimously to pass the bill by the deadline on Friday to avoid a shutdown, but even if Democrats refuse and the government does shut down, it will only last for a few days. 

That's because the Senate can vote to pass the bill without unanimous consent on Sunday. It's weird, but that's the way our government works folks. 

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