Senators optimistic about reaching funding deal

Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneGOP rattled by Trump rally GOP wants commitment that Trump will sign budget deal Poll: McConnell is most unpopular senator 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) TesterPoll: McConnell is most unpopular senator Trump nominees meet fiercest opposition from Warren, Sanders, Gillibrand The Hill's 12:30 Report: Pelosi looks to squash fight with progressives 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 TrumpLiz Cheney: 'Send her back' chant 'inappropriate' but not about race, gender Booker: Trump is 'worse than a racist' Top Democrat insists country hasn't moved on from Mueller 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 PelosiDemocrats should rise above and unify against Trump's tweets 10 questions for Robert Mueller Ocasio-Cortez tears into Trump's immigration agenda: 'It's about ethnicity and racism' 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) MoranEpstein charges show Congress must act to protect children from abuse Bottom Line Senate GOP raises concerns about White House stopgap plan to avoid shutdown MORE (R-Kan.) said.

-- Molly K. Hooper