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Democrats support McConnell's short-term spending proposal

White House may try to avoid gov't shutdown
White House may try to avoid gov't shutdown 05:28

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced on the Senate floor Wednesday that he'll introduce a short-term spending bill to fund the government into early February, and one of the president's top aides suggested earlier in the day Mr. Trump may be amenable to that. 

"We need the government to remain open for the American people," McConnell said on the Senate floor. 

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and presumptive incoming Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announced their support for the legislation as well, paving a path to avert a shutdown. 

"Democrats offered President Trump a clear path forward to pass six bipartisan appropriations bills along with a one-year continuing resolution for the Homeland Security bill," Pelosi said in a statement. "Democratic and Republican appropriators have been ready to pass these bills in a bipartisan way, and we are grateful for their leadership to meet the needs of the American people. This is a missed opportunity to pass full-year funding bills now. However, Democrats will be ready to fully, responsibly fund our government in January, and we will support this continuing resolution." 

The announcement of such a short-term measure to fund the government at current levels, called a continuing resolution, is the biggest breakthrough yet in the recent standoff between the White House and Congress, as they look to avert a shutdown days before Christmas. President Trump has demanded $5 billion for his border wall, and Democrats have offered only $1.6 billion for border security measures. McConnell's proposal would fund border security at its current level of $1.3 billion, and Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer said Democrats will support the measure.

Mr. Trump could consider a short-term funding deal to avoid a shutdown, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said Wednesday morning. 

"He may -- he'll take a look at that certainly," Conway told reporters outside the White House. 

But that short-term solution, she said, doesn't mean the administration is "backing down" from its essential promise to secure the border. Mr. Trump, in a meeting last week with Schumer and Pelosi said he would be "proud" to shut down the government over the border. Conway said the president will "find the money one way or another."

The federal government is facing a Friday night deadline to fund the government or the government will partially shut down. Departments already funded will not be affected. The president and his top aides had been saying they are requiring that the funding include $5 billion for his border wall. But Tuesday, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said the administration wants to avoid a shutdown, and would look for other ways to fund the wall. 

"One way or the other, we will win on the Wall!," the president tweeted Wednesday morning.

Sanders said Tuesday that the administration had identified "a number of different funding sources" that can be used "that would be given through congressional appropriations that would help us get to that $5 billion that the president needs in order to protect our border."

But Schumer, speaking on the Senate floor, warned that the administration could not reprogram funds. "Let me be very clear -- the administration cannot reprogram funds appropriated by Congress for the full wall without our assent," he said. "To do so would violate Congress' Article I powers. They cannot do it on their own."

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