Funding bill hits snag as shutdown deadline looms

A top Senate Republican on Wednesday said Congress will likely need a stopgap bill amid a myriad of last-minute snags that are threatening quick passage of a mammoth spending bill to fund the government. 

Congress has until Dec. 11 to pass an omnibus, which would wrap all 12 fiscal 2021 bills into one, but Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbyCrypto debate set to return in force Press: Why is Mo Brooks still in the House? Eshoo urges Pelosi to amend infrastructure bill's 'problematic' crypto regulation language MORE (R-Ala.) says he doesn’t think negotiators will make their deadline.

Shelby said Congress will need to make a decision on whether it needs a continuing resolution (CR) by Dec. 9, so that they can pass it by Dec. 11. He added that a stopgap was “where we’re headed at the moment.”

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“Will we do it by the ninth? I’d like [to] but probably not. There’s some challenges that have got to be dealt with,” Shelby said regarding the broader government funding deal. “That’s ticking away fast now.”

If negotiators are close they could pass a CR for a matter of days or a week to give themselves time to finalize a deal. If they aren’t close, they would likely use a stopgap to fund the government until early next year and kick the can on the larger bill.

Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneManchin-McConnell meet amid new voting rights push Republican leaders misjudged Jan. 6 committee A tale of two chambers: Trump's power holds in House, wanes in Senate MORE (R-S.D.) told reporters that if they get close to the Dec. 11 deadline and “we’re not done yet we could do a short-term CR.”

Sen. Dick DurbinDick DurbinDemocrats hope Biden can flip Manchin and Sinema US gymnasts offer scathing assessment of FBI The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Simone Biles, gymnastics stars slam FBI during Nassar testimony MORE (D-Ill.), Thune’s counterpart, called a CR “extreme.”

“It’s better than nothing but that isn’t saying much,” he said.

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Negotiators have insisted that they are close on a majority of the spending bill, which would fund the government through September 2021.

House Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerGOP leader taking proxy voting fight to Supreme Court Lobbying world Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by the American Petroleum Institute — Feds target illegal gas practices MORE (D-Md.) told reporters on Wednesday that he and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellCEOs urge Congress to raise debt limit or risk 'avoidable crisis' Capito grills EPA nominee on '#ResistCapitalism' tweet Hassan launches first ad of reelection bid focusing on veterans' issues MORE (R-Ky.) agreed that it would be ideal to get an agreement on a funding deal by the end of the weekend.

The growing chances for a CR come as omnibus negotiations have gotten bogged down in a myriad of perennial sticking points including a fight over Veterans Affairs health care funding, the border wall and money for Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention beds.

“There’s a lot of things that haven’t been resolved. I think we’ll get it done, but you never know around here. All of you have seen bad days,” Shelby said.

Lawmakers are also making a last-ditch effort to try to get some amount of coronavirus relief into the government funding deal.

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In a potential sign of progress, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck SchumerChuck SchumerCEOs urge Congress to raise debt limit or risk 'avoidable crisis' If .5 trillion 'infrastructure' bill fails, it's bye-bye for an increasingly unpopular Biden The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by National Industries for the Blind - Schumer: Dem unity will happen eventually; Newsom prevails MORE (D-N.Y.) and House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiDemocrats hope Biden can flip Manchin and Sinema Overnight Hillicon Valley — Scrutiny over Instagram's impact on teens Democrats suffer blow on drug pricing as 3 moderates buck party MORE (D-Calif.) endorsed a $908 billion bipartisan coronavirus relief framework as a starting place for negotiations with McConnell. 

“In the spirit of compromise we believe the bipartisan framework introduced by Senators yesterday should be used as the basis for immediate bipartisan, bicameral negotiations. Of course, we and others will offer improvements, but the need to act is immediate and we believe that with good-faith negotiations we could come to an agreement,” Pelosi and Schumer said in a joint statement. 

A bipartisan group of more than a dozen lawmakers unveiled the framework on Tuesday. Sen. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinDemocrats hope Biden can flip Manchin and Sinema On The Money — Presented by Wells Fargo — Democrats advance tax plan through hurdles House Democrat says she won't support reconciliation bill 'at this early stage' MORE (D-W.Va.), a member of the group, said they hoped to have legislative text out by Monday. 

McConnell didn’t respond to a question about the rhetoric from Pelosi and Schumer on Wednesday. But Thune said it was “progress.” 

“Hopefully we'll be able to find the common ground and maybe we can merge those. I mean I think that the bipartisan group has had a lot of success in you know winnowing the list of issues and coming up with a package that I think it's, again it's reasonable,” Thune said when asked about the GOP-only proposal from McConnell.

Updated 6:15 p.m.