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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 ShelbyTrump, Pelosi barrel toward final border wall showdown On The Money: Push for student loan forgiveness puts Biden in tight spot | Trump is wild card as shutdown fears grow | Mnuchin asks Fed to return 5 billion in unspent COVID emergency funds McConnell, Pelosi hunt for funding deal as shutdown deadline looms 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 TrumpBiden to nominate Linda Thomas-Greenfield for UN ambassador: reports Scranton dedicates 'Joe Biden Way' to honor president-elect Kasich: Republicans 'either in complete lockstep' or 'afraid' of Trump 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 SchumerChuck SchumerNew York City subway service could be slashed 40 percent, officials warn Biden congratulates Pelosi on Speaker nomination Senate Democrats introduce bill to shore up PPE supply MORE (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiUS economy hurtles toward 'COVID cliff' with programs set to expire Democrats gear up for last oversight showdown with Trump Divided citizenry and government — a call to action for common ground 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 CornynTop GOP senator: Biden should be getting intel briefings GOP senator congratulates Biden, says Trump should accept results Trump keeps tight grip on GOP amid divisions 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.