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Still no border deal ahead of Senate’s return, Schumer says

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Chuck Schumer told reporters Wednesday there’s still no border deal — but reiterated that there’s been “progress” and that negotiations are “closer than we have been” in past weeks.

“We need to fix the border,” the Senate majority leader said. “There’s virtually unanimous agreement among Democrats and Republicans about that. We just have to figure out how to do it in a way that can get 60 votes here in the Senate and the majority of us there in the House.”

Schumer said the Biden administration has been “very closely involved” with talks over winter break. But after more than a month of negotiations, hopes that a deal would come together by this week seem increasingly unlikely. And when Congress returns next week, they’ll be bogged down by other lingering to-dos, including dual government funding deadlines in January and February.

The New York Democrat did not identify a deadline for negotiators, who are trying to find a path forward on a supplemental spending package that would tie together border security policy and foreign aid to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan. He also did not make any commitments on whether he would move government funding legislation or the supplemental spending package first.

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), the lead Democrat in the border talks, said negotiators are hoping to have a deal to present to members when they return for session next week.

“I think if the Senate gets something done in a bipartisan way, it will put enormous pressure on the House to get something done as well and not just [going to let] these hard-right people get up and say they’re going to let the 30 of them to dictate how the whole country should work,” Schumer said.

And on government funding: Schumer said budget negotiators, who are trying to reach a bipartisan agreement on overall funding levels, have also made progress and are “quite close.” The first government shutdown deadline is Jan. 19.

“I’m hopeful that we can get a budget agreement soon and I’m hopeful that we could avoid a shutdown, given the good progress we’ve made. That is certainly not out of the question, as some people have said it would be,” Schumer noted.