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White House officials expect short-term funding bill to avert shutdown

White House officials expect short-term funding bill to avert shutdown
© Greg Nash

Administration officials said they expect Congress to pass a stopgap bill to avert a third government shutdown this year as lawmakers scramble to finalize a must-pass omnibus spending bill.

White House legislative affairs director Marc Short told CNN Tuesday that negotiators are getting closer to reaching an agreement, but there are "too many obstacles to tackle" for the omnibus bill to make it out of the lower chamber by Thursday.

He told CNN that makes it likely Congress will have to pass a stopgap bill in order to keep the government running into the weekend, when lawmakers could vote on the final passage of the omnibus bill. 

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Another White House official said a days-long stopgap is almost a certainty, noting the Senate would likely take up the measure over the weekend.

“A lot of great things in the [omnibus] but we have a handful of very big presidential priorities that are still outstanding unfortunately,” the official told The Hill. “Still hopeful they'll be resolved in the next 24 hours so we can post the bill before midnight tomorrow. House should then pass it before midnight on Friday and will attach a short CR [continuing resolution] and send to the Senate.”

Despite GOP leadership’s hopes the bill text for the $1.3 trillion spending package would be released before midnight Tuesday, the House is expected to miss its deadline due to divisions over border security and funding for the Gateway project. 

If the measure isn’t released until Wednesday, the lower chamber could not vote until Friday unless it waived rules requiring a two-day wait. The legislation would then be sent to the Senate, where additional changes could be made.

GOP leadership in the lower chamber remained optimistic Tuesday afternoon, saying they think it’s premature to call for a CR since appropriators are nearing a deal.

"I think they're closing it out — my feeling, they've got a few issues left, it seems like they're narrowing it down,” House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyMcCarthy brother-in-law under scrutiny for earning federal contracts based on Native American identity claim McCarthy introduces bill to fully fund Trump's border wall On The Money: McCarthy offers bill to fully fund Trump border wall | US to press China on currency in trade talks | Mnuchin plans to go ahead with Saudi trip | How America's urban-rural divide is changing the Dems MORE (R-Calif.) told The Hill. As long as they post by midnight tonight, we will vote Thursday.”

House Majority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseGOP candidate says he chose bad 'metaphor' with face-stomping comments Democrats must end mob rule The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by PhRMA — Dem victories in `18 will not calm party turbulence MORE (R-La.) told reporters he “doesn’t see a need” for a stopgap measure as of yet, but members of his conference voiced skepticism that both chambers could pass the omnibus before Friday.

"I'm a little uneasy at this moment. As we close this thing out, I'm a little concerned about the whip count," Rep. Charlie DentCharles (Charlie) Wieder DentMidterms put GOP centrists in peril House GOP group cuts financial support for Coffman, Bishop GOP House candidate placed on leave from longtime position after sexual misconduct allegation MORE (R-Pa.), a senior appropriator, told The Hill. "I'm also concerned about some of the comments coming out of the White House about Gateway. That gives me some pause about this whole process."

While no decisions have been made, Senate Majority Whip John CornynJohn CornynTrump defends 0B US arms sale to Saudi Arabia Florida politics play into disaster relief debate O’Rourke faces pivotal point in Texas battle with Cruz MORE (R-Texas) said he anticipates they will need to take action to buy themselves additional time.

"It just means we're going to be here into the weekend, perhaps, and there may have to be some measures taken to keep the lights on, but we'll get it done," Cornyn told reporters Tuesday

Melanie Zanona, Jordain Carney and Scott Wong contributed to this report.