Short-term spending bill plan gains steam ahead of shutdown deadline

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill looking to avert a partial government shutdown starting Saturday are warming to the possibility of passing a short-term, stopgap spending measure.

“I think one’s looming on the horizon right now,” said Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbyThe Hill's Morning Report — After contentious week, Trump heads for Japan On The Money: Senate passes disaster aid bill after deal with Trump | Trump to offer B aid package for farmers | House votes to boost retirement savings | Study says new tariffs to double costs for consumers Senate passes disaster aid bill after deal with Trump MORE (R-Ala.), referring to a potential short-term continuing resolution that would maintain current spending levels for government agencies funded by the seven spending bills Congress has not passed.

While most initial disagreements over the seven bills have been resolved, the major exception has been President TrumpDonald John TrumpNASA exec leading moon mission quits weeks after appointment The Hill's Morning Report — After contentious week, Trump heads for Japan Frustration boils over with Senate's 'legislative graveyard' MORE’s demand for $5 billion in funding for a border wall in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) spending bill. Democrats have offered to pass a continuing resolution for DHS, which would renew some $1.3 billion in funds for fencing, through the end of the 2019 fiscal year, Sept. 30.

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The White House on Tuesday seemed to back down from Trump’s earlier promise that he would “proudly” shut down the government, saying the president would be able to cobble together wall funding from other parts of the government.

Democrats rejected a GOP offer to revive the Senate version of the 2019 DHS bill, which included $1.6 billion for fencing in the Rio Grande Valley, and add an additional $1 billion that Trump could use for his immigration priorities.

With those developments, many in Congress, such as Sen. Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntTop GOP senator: 'More harassment than oversight' in House Hillicon Valley: Trump takes flak for not joining anti-extremism pact | Phone carriers largely end sharing of location data | Huawei pushes back on ban | Florida lawmakers demand to learn counties hacked by Russians | Feds bust 0M cybercrime group Top Republican says Senate unlikely to vote on any election security bills MORE (R-Mo.), say a shutdown is off the table, and that a shorter extension is likely in the absence of a comprehensive deal.

“That’s my guess,” he said.

House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiThe Hill's Morning Report — After contentious week, Trump heads for Japan Frustration boils over with Senate's 'legislative graveyard' Trump-Pelosi fight threatens drug pricing talks MORE (D-Calif.), who's poised to become Speaker next month, said a short-term continuing resolution (CR) might break the logjam. Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerNo agreement on budget caps in sight ahead of Memorial Day recess Ex-White House photographer roasts Trump: 'This is what a cover up looked like' under Obama Pelosi: Trump 'is engaged in a cover-up' MORE (D-N.Y.) agreed.

“If Leader McConnell puts a short-term CR on the table, it’s something we’d very seriously consider,” Schumer said.

Outgoing Sen. Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillLobbying world Big Dem names show little interest in Senate Gillibrand, Grassley reintroduce campus sexual assault bill MORE (D-Mo.) said Tuesday that the prospects of a shutdown have faded significantly.

"I’m betting we’re out by Thursday,” she said.

GOP leadership would prefer to pass all seven remaining spending bills and avoid another shutdown fight next year, when Democrats will control the House.

“I think we’re kind of at an impasse, and the question is, then, is the fallback a CR?” said Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneFrustration boils over with Senate's 'legislative graveyard' Hillicon Valley: Assange hit with 17 more charges | Facebook removes record 2.2B fake profiles | Senate passes anti-robocall bill | Senators offer bill to help companies remove Huawei equipment Senate passes anti-robocall bill MORE (R-S.D). “It’s a possibility. Last resort, obviously.”

With only a few days until Friday’s midnight deadline and a decreasing appetite for a shutdown, an alternative to a CR is becoming increasingly unlikely.

“Three legislative days," Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiMurkowski celebrates birthday with electric scooter ride Overnight Energy: Park Service plans to pay full-time staff through entrance fees | Oil companies join blitz for carbon tax | Interior chief takes heat for saying he hasn't 'lost sleep' over climate change Democrats grill Trump Interior chief for saying he hasn't 'lost sleep' over climate change MORE (R-Alaska) lamented, counting off the remaining weekdays on her fingers. “If these were dog years we’d have a lot of time to work this through.”