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 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’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 LankfordSchiff sparks blowback with head on a 'pike' line Schiff closes Democrats' impeachment arguments with emotional appeal to remove Trump Senate Republicans confident they'll win fight on witnesses 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 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.) 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 CapitoDemocrat Richard Ojeda announces Senate bid after dropping out of presidential race Spending bill to address miners' health care, pensions Manchin warns he'll slow-walk government funding bill until he gets deal on miners legislation 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 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.) 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 LoweyMixed feelings on war power limits: Lawmakers and vet candidates US officials, world leaders arrive in Israel for World Holocaust Forum  House revives agenda after impeachment storm MORE (D-N.Y.) and Sen. 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.) 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 Campaign Report: Ten days to Iowa Conservative Club for Growth backs Texas House Republican's primary challenger ICE emerges as stumbling block in government funding talks 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 ThornberryBroad, bipartisan rebuke for proposal to pull troops from Africa Lawmakers push back at Pentagon's possible Africa drawdown GOP senator on Trump soliciting foreign interference: 'Those are just statements' MORE (Texas), the top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, and Rep. Steve WomackStephen (Steve) Allen WomackDemocrats don't expect to do 2020 budget Tom Cotton's only Democratic rival quits race in Arkansas Lawmakers dismiss fresh fears of another government shutdown 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 CornynNadler gets under GOP's skin Restlessness, light rule-breaking and milk spotted on Senate floor as impeachment trial rolls on Democrats worry a speedy impeachment trial will shut out public 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 McConnellCNN's Axelrod says impeachment didn't come up until 80 minutes into focus group Democrats feel political momentum swinging to them on impeachment Impeachment throws curveball in Iowa to sidelined senators MORE (R-Ky.) over the issues.

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

Jordain Carney contributed.