Trump signs short-term spending bill to avert shutdown

President TrumpDonald John TrumpSanders apologizes to Biden for supporter's op-ed Jayapal: 'We will end up with another Trump' if the US doesn't elect progressive Democrats: McConnell impeachment trial rules a 'cover up,' 'national disgrace' 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 SchumerTrump administration installs plaque marking finish of 100 miles of border wall Sanders defends vote against USMCA: 'Not a single damn mention' of climate change Schumer votes against USMCA, citing climate implications 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 ShelbyRoberts under pressure from both sides in witness fight GOP senator on Trump soliciting foreign interference: 'Those are just statements' Sunday shows - All eyes on Senate impeachment trial 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 MnuchinSecurity for Trump's Mar-a-Lago visits cost local taxpayers million On The Money — Presented by Wells Fargo — Senate approves Trump trade deal with Canada, Mexico | Senate Dems launch probe into Trump tax law regulations | Trump announces Fed nominees Senate Democrats launch investigation into Trump tax law regulations MORE to meet with House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiWhite House appoints GOP House members to advise Trump's impeachment team House revives agenda after impeachment storm Democrats worry a speedy impeachment trial will shut out public MORE (D-Calif.) and Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita LoweyNita Sue LoweyHouse revives agenda after impeachment storm On The Money — Presented by Wells Fargo — Senate approves Trump trade deal with Canada, Mexico | Senate Dems launch probe into Trump tax law regulations | Trump announces Fed nominees House Democrats unveil .35B Puerto Rico aid bill 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 revives agenda after impeachment storm House poised to hand impeachment articles to Senate House to vote on Iran war powers bills sought by progressives 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