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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 TrumpSouth Carolina Senate adds firing squad as alternative execution method Ex-Trump aide Pierson won't run for Dallas-area House seat House Oversight panel reissues subpoena for Trump's accounting firm 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 CornynBottom line This week: Senate takes up coronavirus relief after minimum wage setback Senate mulls changes to .9 trillion coronavirus bill 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) ManchinMurkowski never told White House she would oppose Tanden On The Money: Tanden withdraws nomination as Biden budget chief | Relief bill tests narrow Democratic majority | Senate confirms Biden's picks for Commerce, top WH economist Tanden withdraws nomination as Biden budget chief 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 HeitkampCentrist Democrats pose major problem for progressives Harrison seen as front-runner to take over DNC at crucial moment Biden to tap Vilsack for Agriculture secretary: reports MORE (N.D.), Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandGillibrand: Cuomo allegations 'completely unacceptable' Democrats push Biden to include recurring payments in recovery package Pelosi: Sexual harassment allegations against Cuomo 'credible' MORE (N.Y.), Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisElla Emhoff, inauguration designer join forces on knitwear collaboration Who is the Senate parliamentarian and why is she important? In America, women are frontliners of change MORE (Calif.), Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyEverybody wants Joe Manchin Centrist Democrats pose major problem for progressives Biden and Schumer face battles with left if Democrats win big MORE (Ind.) Mazie HironoMazie Keiko HironoOVERNIGHT ENERGY: House Democrats reintroduce road map to carbon neutrality by 2050 | Kerry presses oil companies to tackle climate change | Biden delays transfer of sacred lands for copper mine Pro-Choice Caucus asks Biden to remove abortion fund restrictions from 2022 budget Sunday shows preview: 2024 hopefuls gather at CPAC; House passes coronavirus relief; vaccine effort continues MORE (Hawaii) and Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineOvernight Defense: Tim Kaine moves to claw back war powers authority | Study on sexual harassment and assault in the military Biden tells Senate Democrats to stick together, quickly pass coronavirus relief Kaine plans new push on war powers after Biden's Syria strike 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 FlakeFormer GOP lawmaker: Republican Party 'engulfed in lies and fear' Grassley to vote against Tanden nomination Klain on Manchin's objection to Neera Tanden: He 'doesn't answer to us at the White House' 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 WarnerSenate Democrats offer fresh support for embattled Tanden The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Trump teases on 2024 run Sunday shows - Trump's reemergence, COVID-19 vaccines and variants dominate 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 ShelbyBlack Caucus members lobby Biden to tap Shalanda Young for OMB head On The Money: Senate panels postpone Tanden meetings in negative sign | Biden signs supply chain order after 'positive' meeting with lawmakers Passage of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act is the first step to heal our democracy 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 LeahyFirst Black secretary of Senate sworn in Press: The big loser: The Republican Party Senate acquits Trump in 57-43 vote MORE (D-Vt.), Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTanden withdraws nomination as Biden budget chief Boehner book jacket teases slams against Cruz, Trump Gun violence prevention groups optimistic background check legislation can pass this Congress MORE (R-Ky.) and Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerA Biden stumble on China? First Black secretary of Senate sworn in Republican Ohio Senate candidate calls on GOP rep to resign over impeachment vote 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 PelosiBiden coronavirus relief bill tests narrow Democratic majority Some Republicans say proxy voting gives advantage to Democrats Gun violence prevention groups optimistic background check legislation can pass this Congress 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 JordanJim Jordan calls for House Judiciary hearing on 'cancel culture' CPAC, all-in for Trump, is not what it used to be Democrats don't trust GOP on 1/6 commission: 'These people are dangerous' 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!"