McConMcConnell introduces short-term spending bill to avert government shutdown

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. CNN photo.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Wednesday introduced a short-term spending bill to fund the government through February 8, 2019 in an effort to avert a partial government shutdown this week.

In remarks on the Senate floor, McConnell said that the measure, known as a continuing resolution, would "ensure continuous funding for the federal government," and would "provide the resources necessary to continue normal operations through February the 8th."

If the short-term measure is approved by both chambers of Congress, it would head to President Donald Trump's desk for his signature and prevent a partial government shutdown.

Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, the current no. 2 highest-ranking Senate Republican, predicted on Wednesday that the President will sign the stop-gap funding measure.

"He will sign a clean CR," Cornyn told CNN.

Congress is currently in a race against the clock to prevent a partial shutdown when funding expires for several key government agencies at midnight on Friday.

McConnell's proposal has the backing of the top congressional Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer.

Pelosi, the House Democratic leader who is poised to reclaim the speaker's gavel in the new Congress, said Wednesday afternoon that she supported the measure.

"This is a missed opportunity to pass full-year funding bills now," Pelosi said in a statement. "However, Democrats will be ready to fully, responsibly fund our government in January, and we will support this continuing resolution."

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer sounded optimistic that a shutdown could be averted in remarks on the Senate floor on Wednesday in which he similarly said that Democrats would support the stop-gap funding measure.

"Yesterday we made some progress," he said, adding, "Thankfully, President Trump appears to have backed down from his position for billions in direct appropriations for a border wall."

Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill have made clear they don't want a shutdown, but had been at an impasse over the President's demand for $5 billion in funding for his long-promised wall at the US-Mexico border.

Democrats have made clear that figure is a non-starter for them and any spending bill would need at least some Democratic votes to pass in the Senate.

Of course, no spending measure is final until the President signs it.

But on Tuesday, the White House appeared to step away from the brink of a shutdown.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said Tuesday morning during an interview with Fox News that, "We have other ways that we can get to that $5 billion (for a border wall)."

Members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus and other conservative allies of the President plan to give brief speeches on the House floor Wednesday night, however, urging Trump not to abandon his quest for border wall funding.

They include: Mark Meadows of North Carolina, Jim Jordan of Ohio, Paul Gosar of Arizona, Steve Pearce of New Mexico, Jody Hice of Georgia, Ralph Norman of South Carolina, Andy Biggs of Arizona and Morgan Griffith of Virginia.

Despite opposition from the Freedom Caucus, however, the House should still have the votes to still pass the continuing resolution, assuming most, if not all, Democrats support it, since it has Pelosi's blessing.

By Clare Foran and Ted Barrett, CNN. The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2018 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

The Gayly – December 19, 2018 @ 3 p.m. CST.