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 TrumpLawmakers release defense bill with parental leave-for-Space-Force deal House Democrats expected to unveil articles of impeachment Tuesday Houston police chief excoriates McConnell, Cornyn and Cruz on gun violence 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 LankfordTrump's legal team huddles with Senate Republicans Israeli, Palestinian business leaders seek Trump boost for investment project The Hill's Morning Report — Schiff: Clear evidence of a quid pro quo 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 PelosiHouse Democrats expected to unveil articles of impeachment Tuesday Impeachment witness to meet with Senate GOP Tuesday Press: Pelosi strikes back, hatred is a sin 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 CapitoGOP senators unveil bill to expand 'opportunity zone' reporting requirements ICE emerges as stumbling block in government funding talks Congress braces for chaotic December 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 SchumerTikTok chief cancels Capitol Hill meetings, inflaming tensions Overnight Health Care — Presented by That's Medicaid — Deal on surprise medical bills faces obstacles | House GOP unveils rival drug pricing measure ahead of Pelosi vote | Justices to hear case over billions in ObamaCare payments Overnight Health Care — Presented by Johnson & Johnson — Democrats call on Supreme Court to block Louisiana abortion law | Michigan governor seeks to pause Medicaid work requirements | New front in fight over Medicaid block grants 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 LoweyLittle progress as spending talks push past weekend This week: House impeachment inquiry hits crucial stretch Appropriators face crucial weekend to reach deal MORE (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbyDoug Loverro's job is to restore American spaceflight to the ISS and the moon Little progress as spending talks push past weekend This week: House impeachment inquiry hits crucial stretch 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 GrangerICE emerges as stumbling block in government funding talks Congress hunts for path out of spending stalemate This week: House kicks off public phase of impeachment inquiry 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 ThornberryFormer White House physician Ronny Jackson to run for Congress This week: House impeachment inquiry hits crucial stretch Democrats express confidence in case as impeachment speeds forward MORE (Texas), the top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, and Rep. Steve WomackStephen (Steve) Allen WomackTom Cotton's only Democratic rival quits race in Arkansas Lawmakers dismiss fresh fears of another government shutdown Lawmakers pay tribute to late Justice Stevens 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 CornynHouston police chief excoriates McConnell, Cornyn and Cruz on gun violence GOP senators worry Trump made 'problematic' concessions in trade deal On The Money: White House, Dems edge closer to trade deal | GOP worries about Trump concessions | DOJ argues Congress can't sue Trump on emoluments | Former Fed chief Volcker dies 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 McConnellHouston police chief excoriates McConnell, Cornyn and Cruz on gun violence Overnight Health Care — Presented by That's Medicaid — Deal on surprise medical bills faces obstacles | House GOP unveils rival drug pricing measure ahead of Pelosi vote | Justices to hear case over billions in ObamaCare payments GOP senators worry Trump made 'problematic' concessions in trade deal MORE (R-Ky.) over the issues.

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

Jordain Carney contributed.