© Greg Nash
Congress is expected to postpone a shutdown deadline from Nov. 21 until Dec. 20, the top two Congressional appropriators said after a Tuesday evening meeting.
"It appears that it will be Dec. 20," said House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita LoweyNita Sue LoweyLobbying world Progressives fight for leverage amid ever-slimming majority Biden needs to tear down bureaucratic walls and refocus Middle East programs MORE (D-N.Y.), standing alongside Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbyBlack Hawk pilot shot down in Somalia jumps into Alabama Senate race Senate Democrats ditch Hyde amendment for first time in decades Senate Democrats unveil remaining spending bills, teeing up clash with Republicans MORE (R-Ala.).
The decision to push the funding deadline by just one month through a stopgap measure conveyed a sense of optimism that the two sides would be able to work through contentious issues, primarily related to President TrumpDonald TrumpHarris stumps for McAuliffe in Virginia On The Money — Sussing out what Sinema wants Hillicon Valley — Presented by Xerox — The Facebook Oversight Board is not pleased MORE's border wall.
It also indicated that the sides believed the ongoing impeachment inquiry into President Trump over alleged abuses of power would not prevent them from reaching a deal.
"I think it's irrelevant, frankly," said Lowey of the impeachment inquiry. "I have nothing to do with the other process."
Both Shelby and Lowey had previously floated the idea of a longer stopgap measure into February or March.
Shelby and Lowey said they expect to meet again on Wednesday or Thursday to hammer out differences on how to allocate spending among 12 annual appropriations bills, a process that the disagreements over the border wall had thrown into disarray.
"They have instructed their staffs to continue to exchange offers with the goal of finalizing allocations as soon as possible," said a Democratic aide familiar with the meeting.
"Once allocations are agreed, Appropriations subcommittee chairs will be able to get to work on negotiating individual appropriations bills, including specifics on issues such as border security," the aide added.
Shelby said they hope to reach an agreement on allocations by Thanksgiving.
But the wild card remains Trump, who will have to agree to any final deal.
"The president will have to have a role in this, and we'll be talking to him, but right now we're trying to see where the two of us are," noted Shelby.
Last year, an impasse over the border wall blew up an expected funding deal just before the Christmas recess, leading to a 35-day partial government shutdown.