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Senate approves funding bill, preventing partial government shutdown

The Senate approved a seven-week funding bill on Wednesday, preventing a partial government shutdown that was expected to begin on Saturday.

Senators passed the legislation by voice vote, which represented the final item on the Senate's to-do list as they wrap up their work for the year this week.

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It still needs to pass the House, which returned to Washington on Wednesday night, and be signed by 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.

Republican senators say that while they believe Trump is unhappy with Congress passing a short-term fix, they believe he will sign it because they were able to keep other controversial policy riders off of it.

"I think the message is don't add anything else to it," said 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), the No. 2 Senate Republican. "He's not happy about that [a continuing resolution] but he understands the reality."

The stopgap bill, which will fund roughly 25 percent of the federal government, kicks the funding deadline from Dec. 21 to Feb. 8, avoiding dragging a partial shutdown fight into the Christmas holiday.

A vote on the bill was temporarily held up Wednesday over a fight on whether or not to include a land and water measure, which has been stalled amid negotiations for months. Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Barrasso to seek top spot on Energy and Natural Resources Committee | Forest Service finalizes rule weakening environmental review of its projects | Biden to enlist Agriculture, Transportation agencies in climate fight Barrasso to seek top spot on Energy and Natural Resources Committee The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC - Dems push McConnell on COVID-19 relief; Grassley contracts COVID-19 MORE (D-W.Va.) is also pushing for legislation benefiting miners to be attached to the short-term spending package.

Senators were spotted singing multiple Christmas carols as they waited for action on the continuing resolution.

Though members of the impromptu choir rotated as senators shuffled around the floor, Democratic Sens. Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Barrasso to seek top spot on Energy and Natural Resources Committee | Forest Service finalizes rule weakening environmental review of its projects | Biden to enlist Agriculture, Transportation agencies in climate fight Biden to enlist Agriculture, Transportation agencies in climate fight Five actions Biden should take to build a more humane food system MORE (N.D.), Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandDemocratic senators urge Facebook to take action on anti-Muslim bigotry Social media responds to Harris making history: 'I feel like our ancestors are rejoicing' Ocasio-Cortez says she doesn't plan on 'staying in the House forever' MORE (N.Y.), Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisWomen set to take key roles in Biden administration Trump campaign appeals dismissal of Pennsylvania election challenge Pressure grows from GOP for Trump to recognize Biden election win MORE (Calif.), Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyBiden and Schumer face battles with left if Democrats win big Harris walks fine line on Barrett as election nears The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by JobsOhio - Showdown: Trump-Biden debate likely to be nasty MORE (Ind.) Mazie HironoMazie Keiko HironoOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Barrasso to seek top spot on Energy and Natural Resources Committee | Forest Service finalizes rule weakening environmental review of its projects | Biden to enlist Agriculture, Transportation agencies in climate fight Senate advances energy regulator nominees despite uncertainty of floor vote Democratic senators urge Facebook to take action on anti-Muslim bigotry MORE (Hawaii) and Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineRick Scott tests positive for coronavirus Grassley tests positive for coronavirus Top Democrat calls Trump's Afghan drawdown 'the right policy decision' as others warn of 'mistake' MORE (Va.) took part in the group. Senators were able to work through multiple songs as they waited for their colleagues to arrive back at the Capitol, including "Jingle Bells," "Little Drummer Boy," "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" and "O Holy Night."

Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeProfiles in cowardice: Trump's Senate enablers McSally concedes Arizona Senate race The Hill's Morning Report - ObamaCare front and center; transition standoff continues MORE (R-Ariz.), seizing on the holiday spirit, closed a vote that required senators to return to the Capitol by quipping, "The yeas are 71, the nays are 21 — with Rudolph responding present."

Sen. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerLeadership changes at top cyber agency raise national security concerns IRS races to get remaining stimulus checks to low-income households Hillicon Valley: Trump fires top federal cybersecurity official, GOP senators push back | Apple to pay 3 million to resolve fight over batteries | Los Angeles Police ban use of third-party facial recognition software MORE (D-Va.), in apparent reference to the floor antics, tweeted: "'Tis the season."

Senators held out hope as recently as Tuesday that they would be able to scramble together a deal to fund the remaining seven out of the 12 appropriations bills through Sept. 30, the end of the 2019 fiscal year.

But both sides remained far apart on funding for the U.S.–Mexico border wall. Trump and House Republicans want $5 billion for the wall. Democrats, meanwhile, dug in at $1.3 billion as their cap and insisted that it would go toward fencing, not a physical concrete wall.

Hopes for a long-term deal seesawed throughout the week amid a shuffle of meetings and competing theories from lawmakers about what they would be able to agree to.

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.) told reporters Monday that he thought Trump could make a decision by 5 p.m. Monday, but that deadline came and went. And Shelby, Sen. Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyMcConnell wants deal this week on fiscal 2021 spending figures Democratic senators urge Facebook to take action on anti-Muslim bigotry Senate releases spending bills, setting up negotiations for December deal MORE (D-Vt.), Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTop aide: Biden expected to visit Georgia in push to boost Ossoff, Warnock Democrats brush off calls for Biden to play hardball on Cabinet picks Richmond says GOP 'reluctant to stand up and tell the emperor he wears no clothes' MORE (R-Ky.) and 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.) huddled in McConnell’s office on Tuesday morning to try to craft a path forward.

But hope of a long-term deal was quickly dashed when House Democratic 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.) told reporters that Democrats couldn't accept the deal offered by Republicans.

“Sen. Schumer — Leader Schumer and I have said that we cannot accept the offer they made of a billion dollar slush fund for the president to implement his very wrong immigration policies, so that won’t happen,” Pelosi said on Tuesday.

Republicans acknowledged that the Democratic rejection of their offer made punting the funding fight all but inevitable.

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A GOP senator who attended the lunch predicted leadership would end up with a stopgap bill, adding, “They're still going to try to work it out in a different way, but my guess is they won’t.”

Shelby told reporters hours later that he had been asked to draft a CR that lasted into February, and McConnell made it official on Wednesday morning by announcing his plan to bring up the short-term bill.

“I’m sorry that my Democratic colleagues couldn’t put the partisanship aside and show the same good-faith flexibility that the president has shown in order to provide the resources our nation needs to secure the integrity of our borders as well as the safety of American families,” McConnell said. “But this seems to be the reality of our political moment.”

Conservative lawmakers and pundits are blasting GOP leaders and Trump over the stopgap spending measure.

Rep. Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanCheney, top GOP lawmakers ask Trump campaign for proof of election fraud New RSC chairman sees 'Trumpism' as future Sunday shows preview: Biden team gears up for transition, Trump legal battles continue and pandemic rages on MORE (R-Ohio) questioned in a tweet: “Let me get this straight... our chances of getting the Wall will be better in February when Nancy Pelosi is Speaker than now when we have the majority?”

But the White House appeared increasingly resolved to a continuing resolution as the week stretched on, the deadline looming and no long-term deal in sight.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Tuesday that “at the end of the day, we don’t want to shut down the government.”

Trump appeared ready to fight on for the wall next year, saying in a tweet Wednesday that “one way or the other, we will win on the Wall!"

"In our Country, so much money has been poured down the drain, for so many years, but when it comes to Border Security and the Military, the Democrats fight to the death," he wrote early Wednesday.

"We won on the Military, which is being completely rebuilt. One way or the other, we will win on the Wall!"