Senator: Congress may fund government until February

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbyThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden sets new vaccine mandate as COVID-19 cases surge Senate passes .1 billion Capitol security bill Democrats ramp up pressure for infrastructure deal amid time crunch MORE (R-Ala.) told reporters Tuesday evening that Congress may pass a short-term government funding measure lasting until February.

It’s one of several ideas floating around the Senate as Congress approaches a Friday night deadline to fund 25 percent of government amid wrangling over President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump PACs brought in over M for the first half of 2021 Chicago owes Trump M tax refund, state's attorney mounts legal challenge Biden hits resistance from unions on vaccine requirement MORE's demand for border wall funding.

Shelby told reporters earlier in the day that his preference would be to pass a package of the regular spending bills, which have been crafted by the Appropriations Committee for fiscal 2019.

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But a short-term funding measure may be necessary to avoid a partial government shutdown starting Saturday if Trump and Senate Democrats fail to reach a deal on federal spending and border security.

Short-term spending measures usually originate in the House, though lawmakers are preparing for a shift in control of the chamber starting in January after Democrats captured the majority in last month's midterm election.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellBiden's bipartisan deal faces Senate gauntlet The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden sets new vaccine mandate as COVID-19 cases surge Democrats warn shrinking Biden's spending plan could backfire MORE (R-Ky.) told reporters Tuesday that his preference is to fund federal departments and agencies for the full year.

“If we end up going with a relatively short-term [continuing resolution], we will end up, in effect, punting this year’s business into next year. I think it’s not a very desirable outcome,” McConnell said at a Tuesday press conference.

Senate Democratic Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerSenate infrastructure talks spill over into rare Sunday session Senate holds sleepy Saturday session as negotiators finalize infrastructure deal An August ultimatum: No recess until redistricting reform is done MORE (N.Y.) told reporters that if Republican leaders advance a short-term funding bill, “it’s something we’d very seriously consider.”

McConnell on Tuesday offered Democrats a potential deal to wrap up the spending bills by week’s end. He proposed giving the president $1.6 billion for border fencing and an additional $1 billion for immigration-related matters. 

Schumer later panned the $1 billion immigration account as a “slush fund” and declared it wouldn’t pass the House. 

McConnell will consult with the White House on making another offer. 

"Once I get an answer to that, I will talk to Sen. Schumer again and see what we can do," he said. 

Senate Republican Conference Chairman John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneBiden's bipartisan deal faces Senate gauntlet Senate votes to take up infrastructure deal Senators say they have deal on 'major issues' in infrastructure talks MORE (S.D.) described the stopgap spending bill, also known as a continuing resolution (CR), as a fallback option.

“I think we’re kind of at an impasse, and the question is then is the fallback a CR,” he said. “It’s a possibility. Last resort obviously.”

— Niv Elis contributed.