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 TrumpWHCA calls on Trump to denounce video depicting him shooting media outlets Video of fake Trump shooting members of media shown at his Miami resort: report Trump hits Fox News's Chris Wallace over Ukraine coverage 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 CornynOvernight Health Care — Presented by Coalition Against Surprise Medical Billing — Judge blocks Trump 'public charge' rule | Appeals court skeptical of Trump arguments for Medicaid work requirements | CDC offers guidance for treating vaping-related cases GOP requests update on criminal referrals prompted by 2018 Kavanaugh probe Bottom Line 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) ManchinThe Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by USAA — Ex-Ukraine ambassador testifies Trump pushed for her ouster GOP requests update on criminal referrals prompted by 2018 Kavanaugh probe Fallout from Kavanaugh confirmation felt in Washington one year later 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 HeitkampThe Hill's Morning Report — Biden steadies in third debate as top tier remains the same Trump wins 60 percent approval in rural areas of key states Pence to push new NAFTA deal in visit to Iowa MORE (N.D.), Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Gillibrand2020 Presidential Candidates Krystal Ball: Yang campaign a 'triumph of substance over the theatre' Three 2020 candidates have missed about half of Senate votes MORE (N.Y.), Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisRepublicans wrestle with impeachment strategy Klobuchar takes shots at health and education plans supported by Sanders and Warren Kamala Harris to Trump Jr.: 'You wouldn't know a joke if one raised you' MORE (Calif.), Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyWatchdog accuses pro-Kavanaugh group of sending illegal robotexts in 2018 Lobbying world Trump nominees meet fiercest opposition from Warren, Sanders, Gillibrand MORE (Ind.) Mazie HironoMazie Keiko HironoDemocrats urge Rick Perry not to roll back lightbulb efficiency rules Overnight Energy: Lawmakers show irritation over withheld Interior documents | Republican offers bipartisan carbon tax bill | Scientists booted from EPA panel form new group Overnight Energy: Top Interior lawyer accused of lying to Congress confirmed | Senate set to deny funding for BLM move | EPA threatens to cut California highway funds MORE (Hawaii) and Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael Kaine2020 general election debates announced Senators call for Trump administration to testify on Syria Schumer: Transcript 'absolutely validates' Trump impeachment inquiry 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 FlakeHow to survive an impeachment Are Senate Republicans certain that Trump can return to office? Jeff Flake calls Trump's language 'authoritarian' 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 WarnerSenators take fundraising efforts to Nats playoff games Senate Intelligence report triggers new calls for action on election security Senate Intel report urges action to prevent Russian meddling in 2020 election 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 ShelbyMeet Trump's most trusted pollsters Contractors fight for pay from last shutdown — and the next one Trump signs stopgap measure, funding government through November 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 LeahyRand Paul calls for probe of Democrats over Ukraine letter Senator questions agencies on suicide prevention, response after Epstein's death in federal custody During impeachment storm, senators cross aisle to lessen mass incarceration MORE (D-Vt.), Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellFurious Republicans prepare to rebuke Trump on Syria Republicans wrestle with impeachment strategy Mattis warns 'ISIS will resurge' without U.S. pressure on Syria MORE (R-Ky.) and Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerTrump defends 'crime buster' Giuliani amid reported probe Louisiana voters head to the polls in governor's race as Trump urges GOP support Trump urges Louisiana voters to back GOP in governor's race then 'enjoy the game' 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 on impeachment: 'I'm the only reason' it's happening Democrats to offer resolution demanding Trump reverse Syria decision Rand Paul calls for probe of Democrats over Ukraine letter 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 JordanA Republican Watergate veteran's perspective on a Trump impeachment In testimony, Dems see an ambassador scorned, while GOP defends Trump Ex-Ukraine ambassador arrives to give testimony 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!"