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 ShelbyIs this any way for NASA to build a lunar lander? In-space refueling vs heavy lift? NASA and SpaceX choose both Budget deal sparks scramble to prevent shutdown 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 TrumpThe Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch To ward off recession, Trump should keep his mouth and smartphone shut Trump: 'Who is our bigger enemy,' Fed chief or Chinese leader? 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 BluntGOP group calls on Republican senators to stand up to McConnell on election security in new ads Ex-CIA chief worries campaigns falling short on cybersecurity GOP group targets McConnell over election security bills in new ad 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 PelosiMoulton drops out of presidential race after struggling to gain traction Conservatives push Trump tariff relief over payroll tax cuts Democrats press FBI, DHS on response to white supremacist violence 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 SchumerJewish Democratic congresswoman and veteran blasts Trump's 'disloyalty' comments Schumer says Trump encouraging anti-Semites Saagar Enjeti: Biden's latest blunder; Krystal Ball: Did Schumer blow our chance to beat McConnell? 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 McCaskillEx-CIA chief worries campaigns falling short on cybersecurity Ocasio-Cortez blasts NYT editor for suggesting Tlaib, Omar aren't representative of Midwest Trump nominees meet fiercest opposition from Warren, Sanders, Gillibrand 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 ThuneSchumer blasts 'red flag' gun legislation as 'ineffective cop out' Lawmakers jump-start talks on privacy bill Trump border fight throws curveball into shutdown prospects 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 MurkowskiOvernight Energy: Green groups sue Trump over Endangered Species Act changes | Bureau of Land Management retirees fight plan to relocate agency | Wildfires in Amazon rainforest burn at record rate Bureau of Land Management retirees fight plan to relocate agency out west The Hill's Morning Report - Progressives, centrists clash in lively Democratic debate 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.”