Lawmakers push one-week stopgap funding bill

Lawmakers are pushing a one-week funding bill to prevent a government shutdown as leadership continues to negotiate a larger agreement.

On Wednesday night, Rep. Rodney FrelinghuysenRodney Procter FrelinghuysenBottom line Republican lobbying firms riding high despite uncertainty of 2020 race Ex-Rep. Frelinghuysen joins law and lobby firm MORE (R-N.J.), the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, introduced the one-week bill to fund the government through May 5, predicting leadership would announce a long-term deal shortly.

"This continuing resolution will continue to keep the government open and operating as normal for the next several days, in order to finalize legislation to fund the federal government for the rest of the fiscal year," he said in a statement.

He said he expected "a final funding package will be completed soon."

Lawmakers have until Friday night to pass the short-term funding bill and prevent a shutdown.

The legislation would likely need to pass through the House first, because of rules governing funding bills, before being taken up by the Senate.

Sen. Thad CochranWilliam (Thad) Thad CochranEspy wins Mississippi Senate Democratic primary Bottom Line Mike Espy announces Mississippi Senate bid MORE (R-Miss.), the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, urged his colleagues to support the short-term legislation on Wednesday night.

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“We’ve made substantial progress on an agreement to complete the 2017 appropriations process. Let’s pass this new continuing resolution, and make good use of this extra time to enact overdue legislation to provide for national defense and meet our country’s needs," he said in a statement.

Cochran said he expects both chambers to be able to pass the short-term bill ahead of the midnight Saturday deadline.

Senate leadership had downplayed the chances of a stopgap continuing resolution earlier this week, arguing that lawmakers still had time to agree to an omnibus bill — which would fund the government through Sept. 30 — under the tight deadline.

"I don't want to start talking about a short-term [continuing resolution] on a Tuesday. We're hoping to reach an agreement in the next few days on how to process the entire bill through Sept. 30," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellDemocratic senator to party: 'A little message discipline wouldn't kill us' House to vote on resolution affirming peaceful transition of power Republican lawyers brush off Trump's election comments MORE (R-Ky.) told reporters during his weekly leadership press conference.

But as negotiations dragged on, lawmakers were increasingly expected to need to use a short-term bill to give more time to finalize negotiations 

Lawmakers hinted this week that they would be willing to support a short-term continuing resolution as long as its aim was to give negotiators more time to work out a larger agreement.

"The theory was if we could reach an agreement, we would give them next week to finish it, the paperwork," Sen. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinThe Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Trump previews SCOTUS nominee as 'totally brilliant' Feinstein 'surprised and taken aback' by suggestion she's not up for Supreme Court fight Grand jury charges no officers in Breonna Taylor death MORE (D-Ill.) told reporters on Wednesday afternoon.

The fight over a long-term deal has largely focused on two issues this week: funding for President Trump's border wall and ObamaCare subsidies for insurers known as cost sharing reductions, which help make health insurance more affordable for some customers.

Lawmakers are expected to leave money specifically for the border wall out of the funding bill after Democrats warned they would oppose any legislation that included the provision, which they consider a "poison pill."

"Democrats have always been for border security. ... We may address border security in this bill as well, but it will not include any funding for the wall, plain and simple," Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerPelosi slams Trump executive order on pre-existing conditions: It 'isn't worth the paper it's signed on' 3 reasons why Biden is misreading the politics of court packing Cruz blocks amended resolution honoring Ginsburg over language about her dying wish MORE (D-N.Y.) said from the Senate floor earlier Wednesday.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) appeared to make progress Wednesday with the White House on ObamaCare's cost-sharing reduction payments, which was the largest outstanding issue stopping lawmakers from getting a deal.

Trump administration officials told Democrats they will continue to provide federal funding for ObamaCare insurer subsidies, and Pelosi signaled on Wednesday that she would accept Trump’s unilateral offer, bringing the sides closer to a deal.

“Our major concerns in these negotiations have been about funding for the wall and uncertainty about the [cost sharing reduction] payments crucial to the stability of the marketplaces under the Affordable Care Act,” Pelosi said.

Democrats also want help for Puerto Rico, which is facing an ongoing debt crisis, and an extension of healthcare guarantees for thousands of miners and their families. Without congressional action, they will lose their health insurance at the end of the month.

McConnell told reporters earlier this week that he wants a permanent fix on the miners issue to be included in a final agreement.

"I'm in favor of a permanent fix on miners healthcare. It's my hope that that will be included in the final package," McConnell told reporters.

The short-term continuing resolution would also extend healthcare for the miners through May 5.