Senators voice tempered optimism about push to avoid another shutdown

Democratic and Republican senators are voicing tempered optimism that members of the House and Senate will be able to negotiate a plan to prevent another partial government shutdown next month.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpDem lawmaker says Electoral College was 'conceived' as way to perpetuate slavery Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals to visit White House on Monday Transportation Dept requests formal audit of Boeing 737 Max certification MORE has suggested another shutdown could take place next month or he may declare a national emergency to build a border wall if the 17-member Homeland Security conference committee set to meet for the first time on Wednesday does not provide sufficient border funding by Feb. 15.

The short-term negotiating team, comprised of Democrats and Republicans who sit on the House and Senate appropriation committees, has little more than two weeks to hammer out a deal that will prevent another government shutdown. The longest shutdown in U.S. history, which lasted 35 days, ended last Friday.

"I'm going to give them the benefit of the doubt – you've got some good men and women who are part of that group … that is my hope that they are going to get it done.,” moderate GOP Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiJuan Williams: Don't rule out impeaching Trump The 25 Republicans who defied Trump on emergency declaration Overnight Defense: Senate rejects border emergency in rebuke to Trump | Acting Pentagon chief grilled on wall funding | Warren confronts chief over war fund budget MORE (Alaska) told Hill.TV, referring to the bipartisan groups of negotiators.

Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.), who represents a state that Trump won in 2016, said he believes the group can get a deal – the question is whether Trump will sign it.

“It's going to be up to [Trump] – I think at the end of the day, my colleagues in the House and Senate will get it done,” Jones said.

The Democratic senator added that "if they can make sure that the administration doesn't fall back on some real hardline policies we can get something done.”

Fellow Democratic Sen. Bob CaseyRobert (Bob) Patrick CaseyOvernight Health Care — Presented by PCMA — Trump health chief reveals talks with states on Medicaid block grants | New head of FDA faces tough test | Trump officials defends work requirements in court Trump health chief reveals talks with states on Medicaid block grants The Hill's 12:30 Report: Manafort sentenced to total of 7.5 years in prison MORE (Penn.) said he’s “fairly optimistic” the negotiating team will be able to keep the government open.

Asked if Democrats would be open to supporting a bill with funding for Trump’s proposed border barriers, Casey said: “The group that's coming together – a lot of them are appropriators they are used to working together and making – arriving at an agreement, a consensus on funding."

"There is no guarantee – but it would help if the president was more optimistic – and more constructive," he added.

In the meantime, Republican and Democrats in both chambers are introducing measures to provide “an alternative way forward,” GOP Sen. Bill CassidyWilliam (Bill) Morgan CassidyFive things to watch for in Trump's 2020 budget Overnight Health Care - Presented by Kidney Care Partners - FDA chief Scott Gottlieb resigns | House Dems to take up drug pricing bills next week | Planned Parenthood, doctors group sue over Trump abortion rule Paul says forced vaccinations is 'giving up on liberty for a false sense of security' MORE (La.) told Hill.TV.

Cassidy intends to submit a measure that "would use money that the federal government confiscates from drug cartels – and we would use that to fund the wall – it's about $5 billion together."

"In that case it wouldn't be the federal tax payer or the Mexican government but rather the cartels” that pay for building a barrier along the U.S.-southern border, he said.

Other measures to prevent government shutdowns that have been introduced include Democratic Sen. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerDems request probe into spa owner suspected of trying to sell access to Trump Live video of New Zealand shooting puts tech on defensive The Hill's Morning Report — Trump readies first veto after latest clash with Senate GOP MORE’s (Va.) “Stop Stupidity Act” and a separate bill by GOP Sen. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanGOP moves to rein in president's emergency powers The 25 Republicans who defied Trump on emergency declaration Overnight Defense: Senate rejects border emergency in rebuke to Trump | Acting Pentagon chief grilled on wall funding | Warren confronts chief over war fund budget MORE (Ohio) to make sure that even if Congress misses the funding deadline, government agencies continue to operate with pay.

—Molly K. Hooper