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Congress weighs stopgap bill to prevent shutdown

Congressional leadership is publicly mulling another stopgap spending bill to prevent a third government shutdown as lawmakers race to finalize mammoth funding legislation.

Sen. John CornynJohn CornynCornyn says election outcome 'becoming increasingly clear': report Top GOP senator: Biden should be getting intel briefings GOP senator congratulates Biden, says Trump should accept results MORE (R-Texas), the No. 2 Senate Republican, said on Tuesday that with the timeline for votes slipping in the House, lawmakers could be forced to approve a days-long continuing resolution (CR) before Friday night's deadline. 

"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," he told reporters on Tuesday. 

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Asked if one of those measures would be a stopgap bill, he added: "That would be the one thing we could do, yeah."

The talk of needing another short-term funding bill comes as lawmakers struggle to iron out the final hurdles to getting a deal on the omnibus, which would fund the government through the end of September.

Both Cornyn and House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiGovernors take heat for violating their own coronavirus restrictions Spending deal clears obstacle in shutdown fight Ocasio-Cortez, Cruz trade jabs over COVID-19 relief: People 'going hungry as you tweet from' vacation MORE (D-Calif.) pointed at Department of Homeland Security (DHS) funding as an issue, highlighting the proposed border wall and immigration enforcement funding.

Congress has until Friday at midnight to pass legislation to prevent the third partial government closure in as many months.

Lawmakers had hoped to unveil the funding bill Monday night, setting up a vote in the House for Wednesday, but that was delayed as negotiators held a round of late-night talks.

They are now hoping to unveil the bill Tuesday, with a vote in the House on Thursday.

That could push the Senate's debate past the Friday deadline unless leadership can get every senator to agree to speed up the votes.

Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulLoeffler isolating after possible COVID-19 infection Rick Scott tests positive for coronavirus Overnight Defense: Formal negotiations inch forward on defense bill with Confederate base name language | Senators look to block B UAE arms sales | Trump administration imposes Iran sanctions over human rights abuses MORE (R-Ky.) antagonized his colleagues by using the Senate's rulebook to spark an hours-long shutdown last month. He refused repeated requests to move up a vote on a three-week CR and drove the chamber into a middle-of-the-night vote.

Asked on Tuesday if he would let leadership speed up the votes on the omnibus, he told The Hill "we haven't decided yet."

If the House passes the omnibus on Thursday, the earliest the Senate could hold an initial vote is early Saturday morning — roughly an hour past the funding deadline.

Pelosi told reporters Tuesday that a short-term CR to give the Senate enough time to navigate around its procedural hurdles was being discussed.

“More prominently discussed is if the Senate has all of these procedural things it has to do it might not be finished in time, and maybe [we’ll need] a short-term [bill] just to see it through — should we come to agreement on the other things," she said.

Mike Lillis contributed