Three days before the deadline to avert a government shutdown, congressional leaders were negotiating a spending proposal on Tuesday that would supply no money for President Trump’s promised border wall with Mexico but would increase funding for White House priorities like the military and other types of border security.
Lawmakers in both parties expressed confidence that a deal could be reached before the lights go out, a prediction that seemed safer as Mr. Trump backed off his demand that the border wall receive funding in this measure.
“Hopefully we’ll reach an agreement sometime in the next couple of days,” said the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, though he did not rule out a short-term extension to buy lawmakers more time for a final agreement.
Several obstacles remain, most notably the fate of payments to health insurers to lower deductibles and other costs for low-income consumers who buy plans through the Affordable Care Act marketplaces. Mr. Trump has threatened to withhold the subsidy payments, which are the subject of a lawsuit, as leverage in negotiations with Democrats, whose votes will be needed to pass any spending bill in the Senate.
Democrats have now turned that threat on its head, insisting that the payments — which the administration has quietly continued to make — be guaranteed as part of any deal. “Six million people could lose their health care, which could become unaffordable,” said Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the minority leader.
The House Democratic whip, Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, said the payments were something Republicans “need to do for the American people, not as a ‘give’ to Democrats in negotiations.”