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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 ShelbyMcConnell about to school Trump on political power for the last time Overnight Defense: Trump impeached for second time | National Guard at Capitol now armed, swelling to 20K troops for inauguration | Alabama chosen for Space Command home Space Command to be located in Alabama 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 ThuneImpeachment trial tests Trump's grip on Senate GOP For platform regulation Congress should use a European cheat sheet Streamlining the process of prior authorization for medical and surgical procedures 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 DurbinOfficials brace for second Trump impeachment trial Sunday shows - Capital locked down ahead of Biden's inauguration Durbin says he won't whip votes for Trump's second impeachment trial 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 HoyerBoebert communications director resigns amid Capitol riot: report GOP divided over Liz Cheney's future Pelosi mum on when House will send impeachment article to Senate MORE (D-Md.) told reporters on Wednesday that he and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGraham calls on Schumer to hold vote to dismiss article of impeachment against Trump Rove: Chances of conviction rise if Giuliani represents Trump in Senate impeachment trial Boebert communications director resigns amid Capitol riot: report 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 SchumerCowboys for Trump founder arrested following Capitol riot Graham calls on Schumer to hold vote to dismiss article of impeachment against Trump Biden and the new Congress must protect Americans from utility shutoffs MORE (D-N.Y.) and House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiCowboys for Trump founder arrested following Capitol riot Retired Army general: 'We can't have demonstrators showing up at a state Capitol with damn long guns' Graham calls on Schumer to hold vote to dismiss article of impeachment against Trump 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 ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinBiden tax-hike proposals face bumpy road ahead Senate Democrats leery of nixing filibuster Manchin: Removing Hawley, Cruz with 14th Amendment 'should be a consideration' 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.