Congressional negotiators worked over the weekend in hopes of finalizing a spending deal for a Monday vote to avert another partial government shutdown, but Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Richard C. Shelby (R-Ala.) said on Fox News Sunday talks have stalled over border security issues.
"We've got some problems with the Democrats dealing with [Immigration and Customs Enforcement]," Shelby said. "I'm not confident we're going to get there. I'm hoping we will get there."
Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney expressed a similar expectation on NBC's Meet the Press, highlighting President Trump's demand of $5.7 billion for border wall construction as a key sticking point. Democratic negotiators on Friday suggested they might agree to $1.6 to $2 billion for "physical barriers" on the southern border but remained adamant Trump would not get his full request.
"Let's say the hardcore left wing of the Democrat[ic] Party prevails in this negotiation, and they put a bill on the president's desk with, say, zero money for the wall, or $800 million, an absurdly low number," Mulvaney said. "How does he sign that?"
WATCH: Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney tells @chucktodd he "absolutely cannot" rule out the possibility of another government shutdown over border security negotiations. #MTPpic.twitter.com/SeuRfVThtr
Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), also on Fox News Sunday, struck a slightly more positive note. "We are not to a point where we can announce a deal; negotiations are still going on," he told host Chris Wallace. "There are good people on this committee, so I have confidence that hopefully we will get something done very soon."
There is a slim, though very real, chance that the government will shut down for the second time in as many years — if only for a few hours this time.
Government funding runs out at midnight Thursday. But the $1.1 trillion spending bill before Congress includes a provision, added late in the haggling process, that would roll back part of the Dodd-Frank financial regulatory law that forces banks to reduce their risky assets, potentially putting the government on the hook for bad Wall Street dealing.
So House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) marshaled her whole caucus to oppose a procedural vote on the bill Thursday afternoon. And even if the measure passes the House, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) is urging her colleagues in the majority to spike it in the upper chamber.
"A vote for this bill is a vote for future taxpayer bailouts of Wall Street," she said on the Senate floor following the House vote.
It's not unthinkable that liberal Democrats and populist Republicans could join together and block the bill in the Senate. Or, if they come up short on votes, perhaps Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) or someone else would filibuster a vote past midnight, resulting in a brief shutdown.
It's a longshot, to be sure. But if the last year taught us anything, it's that Washington needs time to get anything done. Right now, time is not a luxury they have. Jon Terbush
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) says Republicans should use "any and all means necessary" to prevent President Obama from acting unilaterally on immigration reform, even if that risks triggering another government shutdown.
"I think we should use any and all means necessary to prevent the president from illegally granting amnesty," Cruz said when asked Tuesday whether he wants to include such provisions in a continuing resolution to fund the federal government. "That certainly, I think, would be appropriate to include in the CR, but I think we should use every — every — tool at our disposal." [Politico]
To be sure, this is not a direct threat about shutting down the government. But trying to block executive orders via a government funding bill could risk another shutdown like the one Cruz championed last year in a failed bid to stop ObamaCare.
Cruz's remark comes two weeks after he seemed to throw cold water on the idea of another shutdown, saying, "There is one person and one person only talking about shutting down the government, and that is the White House." Jon Terbush