Senators optimistic about reaching funding deal

Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneSenate GOP sees early Supreme Court vote as political booster shot Romney backs pre-election Supreme Court vote, paving way for McConnell, Trump Senate GOP faces pivotal moment on pick for Supreme Court 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) TesterPence seeks to boost Daines in critical Montana Senate race This World Suicide Prevention Day, let's recommit to protecting the lives of our veterans Filibuster fight looms if Democrats retake Senate 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 TrumpOmar fires back at Trump over rally remarks: 'This is my country' Pelosi: Trump hurrying to fill SCOTUS seat so he can repeal ObamaCare Trump mocks Biden appearance, mask use ahead of first debate 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 PelosiPelosi: Trump hurrying to fill SCOTUS seat so he can repeal ObamaCare House lawmakers reach deal to avert shutdown Centrist Democrats 'strongly considering' discharge petition on GOP PPP bill 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) MoranLobbying world This World Suicide Prevention Day, let's recommit to protecting the lives of our veterans Hillicon Valley: Zuckerberg acknowledges failure to take down Kenosha military group despite warnings | Election officials push back against concerns over mail-in voting, drop boxes MORE (R-Kan.) said.

-- Molly K. Hooper