Trump signs short-term spending bill to avert shutdown

President TrumpDonald John TrumpLawmakers prep ahead of impeachment hearing Democrats gear up for high-stakes Judiciary hearing Warren says she made almost M from legal work over past three decades MORE on Thursday signed a funding stopgap measure just hours ahead of a shutdown deadline, extending funding levels from the last fiscal year until Dec. 20.

The measure, which passed in the Senate earlier Thursday and in the House on Tuesday, bought Congressional negotiators an additional four weeks to hammer out a deal on how to spend the agreed $1.37 trillion for the 2020 fiscal year, which began Oct. 1, and tackle thorny issues including Trump’s request to fund a border wall.

“I am optimistic that the passage of the continuing resolution today is something Congress can build from, a sign that appropriators from both sides of the aisle are ready to work together to settle government funding by the end of the calendar year,” Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerOvernight 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 House, Senate Democrats call on Supreme Court to block Louisiana abortion law Why a second Trump term and a Democratic Congress could be a nightmare scenario for the GOP MORE (D-N.Y.) said Thursday morning.

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But behind the scenes, appropriators are far from sure they will be able to work out a deal in time, with many raising concerns that an additional stopgap measure could be necessary ahead of Christmas.

"Well we have deadlines, and then they come and we create more deadlines," Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbyDemocrats open door to repealing ObamaCare tax in spending talks On The Money: Economy adds 266K jobs in strong November | Lawmakers sprint to avoid shutdown | Appropriators to hold crucial talks this weekend | Trump asks Supreme Court to halt Deutsche Bank subpoenas Appropriators face crucial weekend to reach deal MORE (R-Ala.) said when asked about progress on allocations.

Progress on a deal has been fleeting.

Last week, the White House sent Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinWorld Bank approves billion-plus annual China lending plan despite US objections On The Money: Congress races to beat deadline on shutdown | Trump asks Supreme Court to shield financial records from House Democrats | House passes bill to explicitly ban insider trading Hillicon Valley: Pelosi works to remove legal protections for tech companies from USMCA | Treasury sanctions Russian group over 0 million hack | Facebook sues Chinese individuals for ad fraud | Huawei takes legal action against FCC MORE to meet with House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiDemocrats gear up for high-stakes Judiciary hearing White House, Democrats strike tentative deal to create Space Force in exchange for federal parental leave benefits: report Trump: Fox News 'panders' to Democrats by having on liberal guests MORE (D-Calif.) and Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita LoweyNita Sue LoweyAppropriators face crucial weekend to reach deal ICE emerges as stumbling block in government funding talks Congress races to beat deadline on shutdown MORE (D-N.Y.), a signal Democrats saw as a sign they were willing to strike a deal. Mnuchin has in the past played the role of dealmaker in contentious negotiations, including a top-line spending deal agreed to over the summer.

But since then, progress on how to allocate the funds has hit several bumps, complicated by Trump’s demand to include $5 billion in funding for the wall in the Homeland Security bill, and backfill $3.6 billion in military construction accounts he reprogrammed toward the wall using emergency powers.

Democrats also seek to block Trump from continuing to use transfer authority in the current fiscal year.

Lowey insisted on Thursday that she remains, as ever, optimistic

While Democrats have been steadfast in their insistence that none of the funding bills be finalized until there is agreement on all of them, in recent days they have begun warming to the possibility of a so-called “Cromnibus.” This is a package that would combine new funding for most of the government alongside continuing resolutions for the most problematic bills, such as Homeland Security.

“The wall I think is the major impediment. But that’s only one bill: the Department of Homeland Security,” House Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerHouse approves two-state resolution in implicit rebuke of Trump Overnight Health Care: House to vote next week on drug prices bill | Conway says Trump trying to find 'balance' on youth vaping | US spent trillion on hospitals in 2018 House to vote next week on sweeping bill to lower drug prices MORE (D-Md.) noted earlier in the week.

“But it ought not to adversely affect the other 11 bills. They’re being held hostage, essentially,” he added.

Scott Wong contributed to this article