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Top GOP senator warns of potential for brief shutdown

Senate Majority Whip John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneGOP split on counteroffer to Biden's spending Senate GOP dismayed by vote to boot Cheney Top Democrat: FCC actions are a 'potential setback' to autonomous vehicles MORE (R-S.D.) warned on Thursday that the government could briefly shut down over the weekend as talks over a sweeping deal to pass funding and provide coronavirus relief drag on.

Asked about needing a days-long continuing resolution (CR) to keep the government funded past Friday night as talks continue, Thune indicated senators could block that from happening if leaders don't have a larger deal in hand.

"I mean I've already — I know people who are gonna object to that, that want to keep pressure on the process until we get a deal," he said.

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"So, it would take consent obviously to do a short term CR," Thune added.

Congress has until the end of Friday to either pass the deal on an omnibus and coronavirus aid — an unlikely long shot, lawmakers acknowledge, because it's still being negotiated. If they don't, they'll need to buy themselves some more time by passing a CR to prevent the government from briefly shutting down a week before Christmas.

Congressional leaders had indicated that they were likely to need a continuing resolution to fund the government past Friday and until they are able to pass a broader deal, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellFormer OMB pick Neera Tanden to serve as senior adviser to Biden Lawmakers reach agreement on bipartisan Jan. 6 commission The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Masks off: CDC greenlights return to normal for vaccinated Americans MORE (R-Ky.) warning that weekend work is "highly likely."

"If we need to further extend the Friday funding deadline before final legislation can pass in both chambers, I hope we'll extend it for a very, very short window of time," McConnell said earlier Thursday

But in order to pass even a stopgap bill by Friday night, Senate leadership needs cooperation from every senator.

Congress has already passed two continuing resolutions this year — one to fund the government between Oct. 1 and Dec. 11 and a second to extend that funding until Dec. 18. Last week's stopgap bill passed the Senate by a voice vote.