GOP senator floats options to prevent shutdown

Republicans are floating multiple options to prevent a partial government shutdown set to begin one week from Saturday.

Sen. Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbyOn The Money: Pelosi says no debt ceiling hike until deal on spending caps | McConnell pressures White House to strike budget deal | Warren bill would wipe out billions in student debt | Senate passes IRS reform bill On The Money: Pelosi says no debt ceiling hike until deal on spending caps | McConnell pressures White House to strike budget deal | Warren bill would wipe out billions in student debt | Senate passes IRS reform bill Trump's border funding comes back from the dead MORE (R-Ala.), the chairman of the Appropriations Committee, said several ideas had been “floated around” ahead of the Dec. 21 deadline.

“There’s a lot of possibilities,” Shelby said.

None have been taken to the White House, he added.

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President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump defends Stephanopolous interview Trump defends Stephanopolous interview Buttigieg on offers of foreign intel: 'Just call the FBI' MORE has threatened to force a shutdown if he does not get legislation providing $5 billion in funding for his wall on the Mexican border. Trump said he would accept blame for a shutdown during a heated and public discussion with Democratic congressional leaders this week that was widely seen as undercutting congressional Republicans in their negotiations with Democrats.

Shelby outlined several ideas that would keep the government open for a short time and allow talks on a longer deal to continue.

One idea would be to fund the government through the day after Christmas, which would allow people to go home for the holidays.

“You could move it to the day after Christmas, that way people get to go home. That’s one scenario that’s been floated around,” he said.

Another option, according to Shelby, would be to fund the government through Jan. 3, the last date Republicans will still have control of both the House and Senate. 

He also suggested a longer funding bill that would keep the government open through the first two months of the year.

“We’ll see what we do,” Shelby said. “The other [option] is to move it until January, February.”

Shelby stressed that none of the potential options had crystallized into concrete plans. 

“We’re at an impasse, so something’s going to have to happen or we’re going to have a CR or a shutdown,” Shelby said, referring to a continuing resolution that would keep existing government funding in place.

Prospects of a partial shutdown appeared to increase earlier this week when Trump told Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerElection security bills face GOP buzzsaw Election security bills face GOP buzzsaw US women's soccer team reignites equal pay push MORE (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiElection security bills face GOP buzzsaw Election security bills face GOP buzzsaw Dems eye repeal of Justice rule barring presidential indictments MORE (D-Calif.) he would take the “mantle” on a shutdown and not blame Democrats.

Trump and Republicans want $5 billion for the border while Democrats have signaled $1.3 billion as their cap. 

Schumer has doubled down following the meeting, saying that Trump threw a “temper tantrum” and that Republicans need to help walk him back.

Shelby, on Thursday, said Schumer’s comments aren’t helpful. Asked if he thought Washington was headed toward a partial shutdown, he added: “It’s what it looks like at the moment because we’ve got nine days to go.”

Sen. John CornynJohn CornynTrump puts GOP in tough spot with remarks on foreign 'dirt' Trump puts GOP in tough spot with remarks on foreign 'dirt' Overnight Health Care: Pelosi to change drug-pricing plan after complaints | 2020 Democrats to attend Planned Parenthood abortion forum | House holds first major 'Medicare for All' hearing MORE (R-Texas), asked if there was a plan to prevent a partial shutdown, threw up his hands to indicate he didn't know, adding, "That's me with my hands up in the air."

"There is no discernible plan. None that's been disclosed," he said. "Everybody is looking to [Trump] about what he wants do. So far, it's not clear."

Asked if any of the options floated by Shelby would be palatable, Cornyn said shutting down the government "does not solve the underlying problem."

"It depends, really, on what the president would be willing to consider. … Maybe something short-term until January," Cornyn said. "But the problem is not going to go away. It's going to be staring us there in the face, so we might as well grapple with it now."

-- Updated at 3:50 p.m.