The U.S. government is facing a Friday deadline for funding about a quarter of its operations, struggling to avert another shutdown after a record 35-day closure was ended last month.
Construction money for a barrier at the U.S. southern border with Mexico remains at the center of the dispute, with President Donald Trump asking for $5.7 billion in funding and opposition Democrats apparently ready to offer some money, but much less than the president wants.
Several lawmakers said late last week they were close to reaching a deal, even as it remained unclear what Trump would agree to.
But on Sunday, Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama, the lead Republican on a 17-member congressional panel trying to reach agreement on border security funding, told Fox News, “I think the talks are stalled right now. I’m not confident we’re going to get there.”
Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney told NBC News another shutdown "absolutely cannot" be ruled out. He said whether lawmakers are close to reaching a deal on border security funding "depends on who you listen to."
Mulvaney added, "The president really does believe that there is a national security crisis and a humanitarian crisis at the border and he will do something about it. He is going to do whatever he legally can to secure that border."
He said if Trump does not win approval for as much money as he wants he is likely to say, "I'll go find the money someplace else,'" by tapping other government funds, a move sure to draw a legal challenge from Democrats.
Trump is set to travel to the border at El Paso, Texas, for a rally Monday night to focus on his demands for a wall to curb illegal migrants from entering the U.S.
Lawmakers have often said since the shutdown ended that a second closure would be prevented, but Trump has refused to rule it out if he does not like the border security agreement they present him.
Trump has signaled that he could declare a national emergency to build a wall without congressional approval, by tapping funds approved for other projects. But key Republican lawmakers have warned the president not to, fearing the next time a Democrat is in the White House, he could declare an emergency to combat some problem at odds with the views of many Republicans, such as banning the use of some types of guns.
Democrats are also certain to file suit against any emergency that Trump declares, which could lead to months of court fights over the wall.