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 CornynSenate ethics panel won’t penalize Booker over confidential Kavanaugh documents Graham angers Dems by digging into Clinton, Obama controversies Trump tells GOP senators he’s sticking to Syria and Afghanistan pullout  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 Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiTrump: I will deliver State of the Union 'when the shutdown is over' Colbert starts petition for Cardi B to give State of the Union rebuttal On The Money: Shutdown Day 33 | Fight over State of the Union | Pelosi tells Trump no speech on Tuesday | Trump teases 'alternative' address | Trump adviser warns shutdown could hurt growth | Mulvaney seeks list of vulnerable programs 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 PaulSenate Republicans have the fix to end these shutdowns permanently Sinkhole opens up a block away from White House Civil rights group marks MLK Day with call for 'Trump card' national ID 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