Senators optimistic about reaching funding deal

Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneGOP divided over impeachment trial strategy Hillicon Valley: Twitter shares more details on political ad rules | Supreme Court takes up Google-Oracle fight | Pentagon chief defends Microsoft cloud contract House, Senate announce agreement on anti-robocall bill 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) TesterTester: Our forefathers would not have tolerated Trump asking Ukraine to investigate Biden The Hill's Morning Report - Fallout from day one of Trump impeachment hearing Veterans face growing threat from online disinformation 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 TrumpTrump reversed course on flavored e-cigarette ban over fear of job losses: report Trump to award National Medal of Arts to actor Jon Voight Sondland notified Trump officials of investigation push ahead of Ukraine call: 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 PelosiSchumer calls on Trump to testify as part of impeachment inquiry Sunday shows — Spotlight shifts to Sondland ahead of impeachment inquiry testimony Perception won't be reality, once AI can manipulate what we see 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) MoranMicrosoft embraces California law, shaking up privacy debate It's time for Congress to establish a national mental health crisis number Overnight Defense: Top diplomat changes testimony to indicate quid pro quo | Dem offers measure on Turkish human rights abuses in Syria | Warren offers plan to address veteran suicide rates MORE (R-Kan.) said.

-- Molly K. Hooper