Senators optimistic about reaching funding deal

Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneSenators offer bipartisan bill to fix 'retail glitch' in GOP tax law GOP's Tillis comes under pressure for taking on Trump We need a national privacy law that respects the First Amendment MORE (R-S.D.), the No. 2 ranking GOP, tells Hill.TV the bipartisan, bicameral conference committee on border security is “making good headway” in its efforts to strike a deal to avoid another government shutdown by February 15.

In order to make that deadline, only nine days away, Thune concedes that the 17-member conference committee is "going to have to wrap something up by the end of this week,” in order to allow both chambers time to debate and vote on a deal before funding runs out.

“They've been exchanging proposals and trading ideas back and forth and hopefully they'll get to a place where will have a consensus,” Thune said in an interview with Hill.TV Wednesday morning.

Democratic Sen. Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterSanders, Ocasio-Cortez back 'end the forever war' pledge Dems wrestle over how to vote on ‘Green New Deal’ White House pleads with Senate GOP on emergency declaration MORE (Mont.) - one of the committee members negotiating a deal - said he’s “still optimistic - very optimistic" that the members can reach a deal before funding runs out.

“It's a matter of will and I think that there's reasonable people in that conference committee - look, it could all get upended by leadership or whatever but the bottom line is people on that conference committee are good people and I think we can come up with a deal,” Tester told Hill.TV on Wednesday shortly after leaving a closed-door meeting between Customs and Border Protection officials in the Capitol basement.

Should the conferees fail to reach a deal by the deadline, President TrumpDonald John TrumpJoint Chiefs chairman denies report that US is planning to keep 1K troops in Syria Kansas Department of Transportation calls Trump 'delusional communist' on Twitter Trump has privately voiced skepticism about driverless cars: report MORE may declare a national emergency on the southern border in order to build a controversial border wall.

While House and Senate Democratic and Republican conferees sound optimistic that they can reach a deal to prevent a government shutdown, but lawmakers acknowledge that Trump and Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiMulvaney: Military projects impacted by wall funding haven't been decided yet Left-wing Dems in minority with new approach to spending Julian Castro hints at brother Joaquin's Senate run MORE (D-Calif.) will make the final decision.

"The question will always be what does the president think of that agreement because every bill requires a presidential signature … but also the bill has to pass the House of Representatives and the Speaker will have a lot to say about that,” Sen. Jerry MoranGerald (Jerry) MoranThe 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 12 Republican senators defy Trump on emergency declaration  MORE (R-Kan.) said.

-- Molly K. Hooper