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Democrats Confident of Spending Deal, One Week from Shutdown Deadline

Bipartisan negotiations on border security are reportedly likely to fall far short of President Trump’s $5.6 billion wall request.

With just one week remaining until Congress reaches its latest deadline to avoid another partial government shutdown, Democratic leaders are confident lawmakers will come to an agreement to keep agencies open, although the status of bipartisan negotiations remains uncertain.

On Friday, The Washington Post reported that a conference committee tasked with negotiating appropriations for the Homeland Security Department—the last outstanding issue among lawmakers—was getting close to a deal to fund agencies until the end of September.

Although sources with both parties differ on how much money would go toward border security in the final deal, one thing is certain: the plan would not offer anywhere near President Trump’s $5.6 billion demand to fund the construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Republican sources told The Washington Post that the deal would land at around $2 billion for “border barriers,” but Democrats insisted they would not agree to such a figure.

Congress and Trump have until Feb. 15 to enact legislation to fund the departments of Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, State, Interior, Agriculture, Treasury, Commerce, Homeland Security and Justice, along with a number of independent agencies. In December, the Senate unanimously approved a short-term continuing resolution to keep those agencies open, but Trump said he would not sign the measure, triggering a 35-day partial government shutdown. Thousands of federal workers are still feeling the effects of that shutdown.

Despite the lack of a deal, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told Politico Wednesday that she is confident the government will remain open this month.

“There will not be another shutdown,” she told reporters. “No, it’s not going to happen.”

The variable that remains somewhat unknown in the shutdown calculus is Trump, who has not definitively indicated where he would stand on a deal to keep the government open that does not include border wall funding.

Although the White House appeared to be making preparations to declare a controversial national emergency that would allow Trump to divert funds from the Defense Department to construct the wall, the status of that plan remains unknown. Congressional Republicans have become more resistant to the idea because of the potential for legal challenges and fearful that it could set a precedent for a Democratic president to cite on other policy issues.