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Congress hopes for a drama-free September for spending bills

Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images

It's looking increasingly likely that Congress will fund the government by the Sept. 30 deadline without too much hubbub.

What we're hearing: Leadership sources from both parties tell me they think they can pass between five and nine spending bills, including the mammoth defense bill, funding more than half of the discretionary budget. They would then pass the remaining bills using a continuing resolution.

Between the lines: My sources in the Senate — which has already passed nine spending bills, the chamber's most since 2000 — are more optimistic than those in the House. And while plenty can go wrong when they get together in conference, both parties sound fairly sanguine about dodging a catastrophe.

The bottom line: The wild card, of course, is President Trump. Even though he's itching to pick a fight with Democrats over funding of his wall, he's privately assured both Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell that he won't shut down the government before the midterms.

But a source close to Trump told me that while they're almost certain he'll keep that promise, they still hear a whisper of doubt.

  • "[The wall] is on his mind," the source said. "I think I would still say we are not going to have a shutdown...and yes, he has explicitly told Ryan and McConnell he won't, but he talks about the wall and keeps talking about it."
  • "I won't rule it [a shutdown] out because it's his biggest issue and he wants to have this discussion before the election. ... In his gut, he thinks it's good politics."