Lawmakers dismiss fresh fears of another government shutdown

Lawmakers dismiss fresh fears of another government shutdown

Congress is preparing another stopgap funding measure to avert a shutdown later this month after little progress on spending negotiations, particularly regarding President TrumpDonald John TrumpOvernight Health Care: US hits 10,000 coronavirus deaths | Trump touts 'friendly' talk with Biden on response | Trump dismisses report on hospital shortages as 'just wrong' | Cuomo sees possible signs of curve flattening in NY We need to be 'One America,' the polling says — and the politicians should listen Barr tells prosecutors to consider coronavirus risk when determining bail: report MORE’s border wall.

The preparations for meeting a Nov. 21 deadline come amid increased tensions following Trump’s refusal on Sunday to rule out a shutdown. But key lawmakers said they are skeptical the president would trigger another lapse in funding after the record 35-day shutdown earlier this year yielded little in return for the White House.

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"I don't think there'll be a shutdown," said Sen. James LankfordJames Paul LankfordFormer Sen. Tom Coburn dies at 72 Burr requests ethics investigation into stock sale, denies wrongdoing Senior GOP senators object to direct payments at caucus meeting MORE (R-Okla.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, in a local television interview Monday. "We have an initial deadline of the 21st of November, but if we don't hit that then we'll get an extension on top of that.” 

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiWe need to be 'One America,' the polling says — and the politicians should listen Florida Democrat hits administration over small business loan rollout The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Dybul interview; Boris Johnson update MORE (D-Calif.) also dismissed the likelihood of another shutdown, arguing Republicans would gain little from it.

“I do think that they learned a lesson from the last shutdown since it didn’t do them very well,” Pelosi said in a Bloomberg News interview Friday.

In the partial shutdown that lasted from Dec. 22 to Jan. 25, Trump had sought $5 billion in border wall funding. Congress later agreed to provide only $1.375 billion for a limited set of barriers in the deal that reopened the government.

Still, Trump’s decision to declare a state of emergency in order to shift billions of dollars from existing accounts toward his wall has complicated the latest round of spending negotiations, as Democrats seek to block him from taking similar actions this time around.

Sen. Shelley Moore CapitoShelley Wellons Moore CapitoSusan Collins: Firing of intelligence community watchdog 'not warranted' GOP senator: Trump should let health care professionals 'guide' coronavirus response State Department under fire as 13K Americans remain stranded abroad MORE (R-W.Va.), whose Appropriations subcommittee oversees funding that would affect the wall, said there has been little progress in identifying a way to satisfy both sides on the issue. 

“The president is standing firm on a $5 billion number at this point,” she said last week.

Congress passed an 8-week stopgap measure in late September to avoid a shutdown on Oct. 1, the first day of the new fiscal year.

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Trump sparked new worries on Sunday when he told reporters he “wouldn’t commit to anything” when asked if he would ensure a government shutdown is avoided later this month. 

"It depends on what the negotiation is," he said. 

Those remarks came less than a week after Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerSchumer names coronavirus czar candidates in plea to White House Democrats struggle to keep up with Trump messaging on coronavirus Schumer: Fired inspector general will be remembered as a 'hero' MORE (D-N.Y.) raised the specter of Trump initiating a shutdown to distract from the impeachment inquiry.

”I hope and pray he won't want to cause another government shutdown because it might be a diversion away from impeachment,” Schumer said. “It's very worrisome to me.”

Rep. Nita LoweyNita Sue LoweyHouse Democrats unveil coronavirus economic response package Biden rolls out over a dozen congressional endorsements after latest primary wins Trump, Congress struggle for economic deal under coronavirus threat MORE (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbyFive things being discussed for a new coronavirus relief bill Infrastructure bill gains new steam as coronavirus worsens Coronavirus bill includes more than billion in SNAP funding MORE (R-Ala.) have both indicated that they expect a new stopgap measure to extend into February or March, though they have yet to finalize an agreement.

Another factor is the House’s advancing impeachment inquiry against Trump, which could lead to a Senate trial in the coming months. Shelby has said impeachment and a subsequent trial would likely distract from the business of passing spending bills and necessitate a longer timeline for a stopgap this month. 

But on Thursday, he floated the possibility of a shorter time frame, before the end of December, for passing a continuing resolution. 

“I would like that because we could finish our business,” he said.

One thing lawmakers appear united against is the possibility of a continuing resolution that would keep current funding levels in place through Sept. 30, an option the White House had floated earlier in the year. 

“Our highest priority should be keeping the government functioning and the Defense Department fully funded,” Rep. Kay GrangerNorvell (Kay) Kay GrangerThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the APTA - A huge night for Joe Biden Kay Granger fends off Republican primary challenger in Texas This week: House eyes vote on emergency coronavirus funding MORE (Texas), the top Republican on the House Appropriations Committee, said Monday. 

“We cannot afford to short-change our troops or create unnecessary uncertainty for the Department of Defense,” she added in a joint statement decrying the possibility of a yearlong extension issued alongside Rep. Mac ThornberryWilliam (Mac) McClellan ThornberryPentagon gets heat over protecting service members from coronavirus Top Armed Services Republican unveils proposals on military families, acquisition reform House panel delays consideration of annual defense policy bill MORE (Texas), the top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, and Rep. Steve WomackStephen (Steve) Allen WomackOvernight Defense: Lawmakers tear into Pentagon over .8B for border wall | Dems offer bill to reverse Trump on wall funding | Senators urge UN to restore Iran sanctions Lawmakers trade insults over Trump budget cuts Deficits to average record .3 trillion over next decade: CBO MORE (Ark.), the ranking Republican on the Budget Committee.

A yearlong continuing resolution would prevent an agreed-upon, multibillion-dollar increase in both defense and domestic funding, and prevent government agencies from embarking on a bevvy of new programs.

When it comes to a potential shutdown, however, Trump is the wild card.

The last shutdown began when he did a last-minute about-face on a spending deal set for a vote in what was then the GOP-controlled House. 

Sen. John CornynJohn CornynGOP senator: National shelter-in-place order would be an 'overreaction' Lawmakers already planning more coronavirus stimulus after T package Cuban says he'd spank daughter if she was partying during coronavirus pandemic MORE (R-Texas) on Monday acknowledged that things this time around could shift toward a shutdown given the importance of the wall to Trump and the pending impeachment.

“I think it's unlikely but, you know, in this political environment I guess anything can happen," he said.

Democrats have pushed their GOP colleagues to negotiate on how the overall set of funds will be split up among the 12 annual spending bills, an issue that cannot be resolved until the wall issue is resolved.

“The critical next step is to complete negotiations on subcommittee allocations, allowing our subcommittee chairs to conference individual bills,” Lowey said last week. “To reach agreement on allocations, Senate Republicans must drop their insistence on funding a wasteful wall at the expense of critical domestic programs.” 

Shelby and Lowey have resumed talks on the allocations, and those talks have escalated to the leadership level.

Pelosi said she was engaged in talks with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellFlorida Democrat hits administration over small business loan rollout The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Dybul interview; Boris Johnson update Schumer says nation will 'definitely' need new coronavirus relief bill MORE (R-Ky.) over the issues.

“Let’s see what we can get accomplished,” she said on Friday.

Jordain Carney contributed.