Lawmakers say they're closing in on border deal to prevent shutdown

Lawmakers on Thursday said they are closing in on an agreement to prevent a second partial government shutdown and resolve the months-long fight over President TrumpDonald John TrumpUS-Saudi Arabia policy needs a dose of 'realpolitik' Trump talks to Swedish leader about rapper A$AP Rocky, offers to vouch for his bail Matt Gaetz ahead of Mueller hearing: 'We are going to reelect the president' MORE's proposed border wall.
 
Congress has until Feb. 15 to send the president legislation, but negotiators consider Monday their unofficial deadline to ensure an agreement has enough time to make it through both chambers and to Trump's desk by next Friday.
 
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Sen. Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbyThe Hill's Morning Report: Trump walks back from 'send her back' chants GOP wants commitment that Trump will sign budget deal Schumer warns Mulvaney against drawing hard lines on budget deal MORE (R-Ala.), chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said negotiators hadn't clinched a deal yet, but that staffers were aiming to "conclude" one by Monday.
 
"I hope we can get this concluded, and the next 72 hours are very crucial," Shelby said. "The trajectory is very positive right now."
 
He added that a deal would likely not be reached on Thursday night, adding "but you never know." 
 
Sen. Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterPoll: McConnell is most unpopular senator Trump nominees meet fiercest opposition from Warren, Sanders, Gillibrand The Hill's 12:30 Report: Pelosi looks to squash fight with progressives MORE (D-Mont.), also on the 17-member conference committee tasked with hammering out a deal, told reporters Thursday that an agreement was possible as soon as Friday, according to Reuters.
 
“[It's] entirely possible we could have a deal in a timely manner, which could be tomorrow but certainly by the weekend," he said.
 
Congress has until Feb. 15 to get legislation to Trump's desk that would fund roughly a quarter of the government and resolve the stalemate on funding for a border wall. The president on Jan. 25 agreed to sign a three-week continuing resolution in exchange for Congress negotiating a deal on Department of Homeland Security (DHS) funding. He hasn't ruled out declaring a national emergency if the spending impasse is not resolved.
 
The acceleration of negotiations is a drastic turnaround from Monday, when the bicameral conference committee was off to a painfully slow start and had not, according to lawmakers, begun talking about "substance" yet.
 
But there were signs of progress on Thursday, when Shelby briefed Trump and Vice President Pence at the White House about the negotiations.
 
The Alabama Republican appeared optimistic after he returned from the White House, saying that if a deal stayed within the "parameters" he discussed with the president, he believed Trump would sign it.
 
"If we can work within some of the parameters that we've talked about today … I think he would sign it," Shelby said. "And I think he's, from my perspective, been quite reasonable."

Speaking to reporters following the meeting, Trump was noncommittal about the spending negotiations.

"Both sides are moving along. We'll see what happens," he said at the White House. "We need border security. We have to have it. It's not an option. Let's see what happens."

One administration official said the conference committee negotiations are “going well.”

“Hope to have a deal wrapped up by this weekend," the official said, adding that it’s dependent on Trump.

Rep. Tom GravesJohn (Tom) Thomas GravesGOP scores procedural win by securing more funding to enforce Iran sanctions Bipartisan bill would enable companies to defend themselves against cyberattacks Republicans spend more than million at Trump properties MORE (R-Ga.) told The Hill "things are tracking in a better direction.”

“I think the rigid positions are softening up and folks are looking towards, ‘How do you bring us together? How do you land this plane?’" he said.

In addition to Trump, any agreement would need to get approval from congressional leadership. Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiTrump telling aides to look at potential spending cuts if he wins reelection: report Budget talks between White House, Pelosi spill into weekend Trump says he won't watch Mueller testimony MORE (D-Calif.) said she was being a "non-interventionist" on the talks and had urged the White House to take the same position. 
 
"Just let them do their work, and then hopefully, that will get some good news in a short period of time," she told reporters.
  
Shelby also briefed the Senate GOP caucus about his talk with Trump during a closed-door policy lunch.
 
"I think it wouldn't be talking out of school here to say he said it was a really good meeting with the president and he feels more optimistic than he has up until now," Sen. Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntGOP wants commitment that Trump will sign budget deal Poll: McConnell is most unpopular senator Senate passes bill making hacking voting systems a federal crime MORE (R-Mo.) said after the lunch.
 
 
Leahy, after Schumer and Democratic conferees met on Thursday, was noncommittal about whether they would get a deal by Monday. But, he added, they had made "great progress" and that he was clearing his weekend schedule. 
 
"We're negotiating the final number, and that's why I've turned down all the weekend shows and everything else, just because I'll negotiate with Republicans and Democrats," Leahy said.
 
Niv Elis and Juliegrace Brufke contributed.
 
Updated at 5:09 p.m.