According to congressional aides, the Democratic-controlled United States Congress could vote as early as Wednesday to continue funding the federal government, avoiding a politically embarrassing partial shutdown.
Negotiators were attempting to determine how long to extend government funding, with sources stating that the target ranged from mid-January to February. Congress must buy time to address another looming crisis: the risk that the federal government will default on its $28.9 trillion debt if lawmakers do not extend it.
The House of Representatives and Senate have until Friday at midnight to renew temporary legislation that keeps government operations running, including national parks and air traffic control, as well as military pay and medical research.
"After the House takes action this week, the Democratic-led Senate will move forward to make sure the government remains funded after the deadline," Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a speech. "With so many critical issues, the last thing the American people need right now is a government shutdown."
Senator John Thune, the Senate's No. 2 Republican, told reporters that the funding bill could have a "January-February timeline," but that there was "no consensus" among appropriators yet.
Republicans want Democrats to raise the debt ceiling on their own, avoiding the time-consuming "reconciliation" process that allows legislation to pass the Senate with a simple majority. Senator Joe Manchin, a centrist Democrat, said he understood Republicans were willing to pass a "quick" debt-ceiling reconciliation bill.
However, Thune told reporters that the Senate parliamentarian may need to weigh in on certain options for using reconciliation first. "There are some ambiguities because it hasn't been used that frequently," Thune explained.
Democrats want to address the debt ceiling through regular order rather than reconciliation. Regular order, on the other hand, would necessitate Republicans refraining from using procedural barriers to stymie the effort.