Top Republican predicts any deal will move without calling members back to DC

A top House Republican said Saturday that he’s hopeful “cooler heads will prevail” to open up the government before Christmas, predicting the vote would happen by unanimous consent without calling lawmakers in either chamber back to Washington. 
 
“They’re not gonna pull people back,” Rep. Pete SessionsPeter Anderson SessionsHillicon Valley — Presented by CTIA and America's wireless industry — Lawmaker sees political payback in fight over 'deepfakes' measure | Tech giants to testify at hearing on 'censorship' claims | Google pulls the plug on AI council Lawmaker alleges political payback in failed 'deepfakes' measure As Russia collusion fades, Ukrainian plot to help Clinton emerges MORE (R-Texas), the chairman of the House Rules Committee, told a small group of reporters as he wheeled his luggage through the Capitol en route to the airport for a flight back to Texas. 
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Sessions, who lost his reelection race in November, said he’s been encouraging other lawmakers to go home, and has freed his own staff to do the same, in expectation that if a deal is reached it will move through both chambers unanimously. 
 
“If we do have a deal, I’ll come back here immediately, but I think any deal that’s cut now — if there is a deal — it’ll be by [unanimous consent] in the House and the Senate, and we would not bring our members back,” he said. 
 
The comments came less than 12 hours after roughly a quarter of the federal government was shuttered over a disagreement between the parties over funding President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump watching 'very closely' as Portland braces for dueling protests WaPo calls Trump admin 'another threat' to endangered species Are Democrats turning Trump-like? MORE’s signature border wall proposal.
 
Earlier in the week, Trump had signaled he would accept a short-term spending package to fund a handful of agencies without including the $5 billion in border wall funding he had initially demanded. In response, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellAre Democrats turning Trump-like? House Democrat calls for gun control: Cities can ban plastic straws but 'we can't ban assault weapons?' Churches are arming and training congregants in response to mass shootings: report MORE (R-Ky.) passed a “clean” continuing resolution (CR) through the upper chamber on Wednesday. That bill, passed unanimously, would have funded those parts of the government through Feb. 8.  
 
But House conservatives quickly revolted, insisting that the $5 billion for the border wall be included in the package. 
 
On Wednesday night, Sessions declined to move the Senate-passed CR through the House Rules Committee, setting the stage for a tense gathering of the GOP conference Thursday morning, where more conservatives piled on in opposition to the Senate’s “clean” CR. 
 
“The president’s standing up for it, and I made sure as chairman of the Rules Committee that I did not take what the Senate had done the other night, and I advised the committee we would not do it and we did not do it,” Sessions said Saturday.
 
“And then in a conference, my conference said, ‘What Pete did is the right thing.’ ” 
 
The House opposition — combined with attacks in the conservative media — seemed to embolden Trump, who reversed course on Thursday and began demanding the $5 billion in wall funding. 
 
The House, on Thursday evening, passed the Senate CR with two additional provisions: $5.7 billion in wall and border security funding; and $8.7 billion in emergency disaster relief to address damage from natural disasters across the country. 
 
The additional wall funding, however, has been a non-starter with Democrats in both chambers, and the House-passed bill has no chance of passing through the Senate, where 60 votes are needed to end a filibuster. McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerAppropriators warn White House against clawing back foreign aid Colorado candidates vying to take on Gardner warn Hickenlooper they won't back down Trump ahead of New Hampshire speech: Lewandowski would be 'fantastic' senator MORE (D-N.Y.) agreed Friday afternoon to create the space for serious negotiations, without test votes and other political shenanigans that often accompany such debates.
 
McConnell said Saturday morning that he’s simply standing by waiting for some resolution between Trump and Schumer. 
 
“The talks that count are between the Senate Democrats, whose votes you need, and the administration,” McConnell said. “So I’m pulling for them."
 
“Whatever the president and the Senate Democrats can negotiate is what we’re prepared to pass,” he added.
 
McConnell was wearing a red Louisville sweater — a gesture of hope, he said, that policymakers can break the impasse before Christmas. 
 
Sessions, for his part, said he’s optimistic that a deal can be sealed before Tuesday’s Christmas holiday. 
 
“Would I think we would get something potentially done before Monday morning? I think cooler heads would find a way,” he said.
 
Still, Sessions also encouraged Trump not to back down from the $5 billion demand for new wall funding, framing the situation at the U.S.-Mexico border as “an honest, legitimate national crisis.”
 
“If we do not have a wall to protect this nation, millions will simply run into our country — millions that we have no idea who they are,” he said.
 
“If the president can’t stand up for it, and the House of Representatives can’t stand up for it, then the American people are in trouble.”