Trump talks spending with key GOP chairman as deadline looms

Trump talks spending with key GOP chairman as deadline looms
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President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump says his advice to impeachment defense team is 'just be honest' Trump expands tariffs on steel and aluminum imports CNN's Axelrod says impeachment didn't come up until 80 minutes into focus group MORE spoke on Thursday night with Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbySenate fails to get deal to speed up fight over impeachment rules Roberts under pressure from both sides in witness fight GOP senator on Trump soliciting foreign interference: 'Those are just statements' MORE (R-Ala.) about government funding ahead of the Dec. 20 shutdown deadline. 

A source familiar with the discussion said the president and Shelby had a "productive conversation" about the appropriations process. 

"President Trump was positive and encouraging about working with us to complete our FY20 bills," the source added on Friday. 

The conversation comes as lawmakers are in the midst of a flurry of behind-the-scenes negotiations as they try to make progress on the fiscal 2020 funding bills.

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Congress has until Dec. 20. to prevent a government shutdown days before the Christmas holiday. To do that they either need to pass all 12 fiscal 2020 funding bills, or buy themselves more time with another continuing resolution. 

Shelby's talk with Trump comes after he took part in two meetings with leaders of the Defense appropriations subcommittee on Thursday. He said afterwards  that they had a "positive meeting" and were "real close" to a deal on the defense bill, potentially as soon as the middle of next week. 

"We went over our differences. ... We believe we're very close, very close to working it out," Shelby said, adding that staff if working on three or four remaining issues in the defense bill.

The border wall has emerged as the biggest hurdle to negotiators as they try to get a deal on the fiscal 2020 spending bills. 

Beyond funding for new barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border, Congress and the White House need to get an agreement on Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) beds and Trump's ability to shift defense money to the border wall. 

Shelby told The Hill on Thursday that they had not yet reached an agreement on Trump's ability to reprogram funding, and indicated that it might have to be worked out at the leadership level.  

"We are trying to agree on what we can agree on and some things we can't they're going to have to be worked out by Schumer and Pelosi and the president and McConnell," he added, referring to Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerVeronica Escobar to give Spanish-language response to Trump State of the Union address The Hill's 12:30 Report: Democrats turn to obstruction charge Liberal super PAC to run digital ads slamming Trump over Medicare comments MORE (D-N.Y.) and Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiCNN's Axelrod says impeachment didn't come up until 80 minutes into focus group On The Money — Presented by Wells Fargo — Social Security emerges as flash point in Biden-Sanders fight | Dems urge Supreme Court to save consumer agency | Trump to sign USMCA next week Veronica Escobar to give Spanish-language response to Trump State of the Union address MORE (D-Calif.).