Barrasso, a top GOP senator, says he hopes shutdown can be avoided

Barrasso hopeful Trump would sign bill to avoid shutdown

Republican Sen. John Barrasso, a member of the party's incoming Senate leadership, says he hopes Washington can avert a potential government shutdown over a dispute about funding for President Trump's border wall.

"I think that's what the American people expect of the people that they elect — keep the government open," Barrasso, a Wyoming Republican and soon-to-be chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, said on "Face the Nation." "I know we're trying in the House and the Senate to come up with a proposal to get passed in both of those bodies before Friday the 21st, and then send that to the White House, which I hope the president would choose to sign."

Transcript: Sen. John Barrasso on "Face the Nation," December 16, 2018

Parts of the federal government will shut down days before Christmas if Congress and the president can't agree to new spending bills by a Dec. 21 deadline. The president said last week he would be "proud" to shut down the government if he doesn't get money for border security, declaring he would take full responsibility for any shutdown. 

On "Face the Nation," Barrasso noted that Congress, through the appropriations process, has already approved "75 percent of the funding for the government for the next year." 

"But I still think it's better to not have any sort of [shutdown,] even a partial shutdown, whether it's over Christmas or anytime. I don't think people benefit by that," he said.

Asked about a federal court ruling in Texas on Friday that found the entire Affordable Care Act unconstitutional, Barrasso said it may take several years for the case to reach the Supreme Court. Until then, he said, any changes to the health care law will preserve protections for pre-existing conditions.

"I think government never does big things really well," said Barrasso, a doctor by training. "I'm for more of a step-by-step, and I want to start with the first step of people with preexisting conditions."