Negotiators aiming to reach deal on Monday night to avert shutdown

Lawmakers involved in the negotiations to prevent a second government shutdown say they are aiming to reach an agreement on Monday night. 

Sens. Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahySenate Democrats demand answers on migrant child trafficking during pandemic Yates spars with GOP at testy hearing Vermont has a chance to show how bipartisanship can tackle systemic racism MORE (D-Vt.) and Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbyOn The Money: Pessimism grows as coronavirus talks go down to the wire | Jobs report poised to light fire under COVID-19 talks | Tax preparers warn unemployment recipients could owe IRS Pessimism grows as coronavirus talks go down to the wire Negotiators hit gas on coronavirus talks as frustration mounts MORE (R-Ala.), the top two members of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said a core group of four lawmakers including themselves and Reps. Nita LoweyNita Sue LoweyHelping our seniors before it's too late House approves .3 trillion spending package for 2021 House approves two child care bills aimed at pandemic MORE (D-N.Y.) and Kay GrangerNorvell (Kay) Kay GrangerHelping our seniors before it's too late House approves .3 trillion spending package for 2021 GOP lawmakers comply with Pelosi's mask mandate for House floor MORE (R-Texas) would reconvene at 8 p.m. with the aim of getting a deal to break the months-long stalemate. 

"I think we both agree that we can wrap this up tonight, do it tonight, not go over until tomorrow," Leahy told reporters after a core group met for a second time on Monday night. 

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Shelby added that the group was currently talking about "serious, serious stuff" and that the goal was to wrap up talks and get an "agreement in principle" on Monday night.

“We’re talking about reaching an agreement on all of it," he said, adding that the odds have "improved but not crystalized."

Congress has until Friday to get a funding agreement to President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden says his faith is 'bedrock foundation of my life' after Trump claim Coronavirus talks on life support as parties dig in, pass blame Ohio governor tests negative in second coronavirus test MORE's desk if they are going to prevent the second partial shutdown in as many months.

In addition to funding roughly a quarter of the government, including the Department of Homeland Security, lawmakers need to resolve the fight over funding for the U.S.-Mexico border wall.

Leahy and Shelby were tightlipped about what had occurred during the closed-door negotiations that made them think a deal could be reached later Monday night.

But Shelby indicated to reporters after the initial closed-door meeting on Monday that they had "reopened negotiations" and were no longer "stalled."

The sign of progress is a dramatic U-turn from even earlier Monday when both sides were saying talks had been stalemated because of a snag related to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention beds.

Shelby said on Fox News Sunday that talks had stalemated and put the chances of getting a deal at 50-50.

Democrats have proposed a cap on the number of ICE detention beds, arguing it would force the Trump administration to focus on “serious criminals,” and that numbers were in line with those from the Obama administration.

An opening offer from Democrats late last month included funding for an average daily population of 35,520 detainees, but statutorily limited the average daily population in detention centers to 16,500 between the date of a possible deal’s enactment and the end of fiscal 2019.

But Republicans lashed out at the demand on Monday, arguing House Democrats were threatening the chances of reaching an agreement. 

Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellCoronavirus talks on life support as parties dig in, pass blame Jobs report poised to light fire under COVID-19 talks Overnight Health Care: Ohio governor tests positive for COVID-19 ahead of Trump's visit | US shows signs of coronavirus peak, but difficult days lie ahead | Trump: COVID-19 vaccine may be ready 'right around' Election Day MORE (R-Ky.) accused House Democrats of bending to the "radical fringe" and dropping a "poison pill" into the negotiations. 

“This is a poison pill that no administration, not this one, not the previous one, should ever accept," McConnell said from the Senate floor. "Imagine the absurdity of this: House Democrats want to set a limit on how many criminal aliens our government can detain.

— Updated at 7:14 p.m.