WASHINGTON — President Trump met with a key Republican negotiator Thursday to lay out his demands for a border deal, as lawmakers sought an agreement to stave off another government shutdown.

Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard Shelby, R-Ala., told reporters after meeting with Trump that he believes the president will support a deal bipartisan congressional negotiators produce – as long as it meets his parameters. Lawmakers face a Feb. 15 deadline when large portions of the government will shut back down absent a deal.

Shelby declined to detail Trump’s requirements, and he did not say whether the president had agreed to accept less than the $5.7 billion he’s been demanding to build new steel walls along the U.S.-Mexico border.

“If we can work within some of the parameters that we talked about today – that we’ll keep to ourselves – I think he would sign it,” Shelby said. “And I think he’s, from my perspective, been quite reasonable.”

Shelby added: “We hope we’ve got a deal. If we haven’t got a deal, we probably won’t get a deal.”

Democrats involved in the talks said there was not yet a deal and they hadn’t been briefed on the president’s new demands. Lawmakers on both sides said they hoped to wrap up their talks by Monday, to allow enough time to pass the package through the House and Senate before the government shutdown deadline.

Key federal agencies are currently operating on a short-term spending bill Trump signed Jan. 25, when he ended the nation’s longest ever government shutdown without getting the money he wants for his wall. He gave lawmakers three weeks to come up with something to satisfy his demands, threatening another shutdown or a national emergency declaration if they don’t deliver.

Shelby is a leader on the bipartisan committee that’s trying to strike a deal that could satisfy Trump’s border wall demands while also winning support from Democrats and keeping the government open.

The committee has been circling a deal that could include fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border – but not the $5.7 billion Trump has demanded for more than 200 miles of new steel walls. It remained unclear following Trump’s meeting with Shelby whether the president would agree to such an outcome.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., expressed confidence Thursday that the committee, which includes experienced members of congressional appropriations committee, could reach a deal.

“Hopefully we’ll get some good news in a short period of time, and certainly in time” to meet the Feb. 15 deadline, she said, expressing confidence the government would remain open. “I don’t think that is a question.”

At the same time, the White House is exploring how to work around Congress to build a border wall.

Acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney said the White House is looking at multiple ways to redirect taxpayer money for the construction of a wall, and is prioritizing strategies that won’t be blocked in court.

Mulvaney’s comments suggest Trump is readying a contingency plan in case he is not satisfied with a congressional deal that falls short of his demands for billions in federal funding for a border barrier.

“There’s a couple of different ways we can do it,” Mulvaney said Wednesday evening on Fox News. “We’re looking at all of them.”

Mulvaney said the steps would come through some type of executive action. He didn’t specify whether that would require declaring a national emergency, which Trump has threatened to do for weeks, or if there was another mechanism that might prove less controversial.

He said the White House’s preference was for Congress to approve the money on its own, but he said the Trump administration was finalizing plans for how it would act if lawmakers refuse.

Pelosi warned against such a step. “That would not be a very good idea. It would not be a good idea to even try,” Pelosi said.

Trump, for weeks, has threatened to declare a national emergency along the southern border and use special presidential powers to then move money that was meant for certain programs and use it instead to build a wall.

A number of Republicans have raised concerns about Trump taking this step, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has warned the White House there could be a backlash. Trump has not said he plans to abandon that approach, but Mulvaney on Wednesday mentioned there were multiple options being studied, with a preference toward initiatives that are harder to block in court.

“Find the money that we can spend with the lowest threat of litigation and then move from that pot of money to the next pot that maybe brings a little bit more threat of litigation and then go through the budget like that,” Mulvaney said.

He said the White House had already identified “substantially more than $5.7 billion” that could be redirected for these purposes.

It is legally difficult for the White House to move money that was appropriated for one purpose and spend it on something else, which is one primary reason Trump has pushed Congress to authorize construction of the wall. Mulvaney and other White House officials have said for weeks they believe they have ways to do it, but they haven’t specified how it might work, particularly if they do not declare a national emergency.

As a candidate and earlier in his presidency, Trump promised more than 200 times that the wall would be paid for by Mexico.

Congressional leaders in December reached a deal to keep the government open, which the Senate approved by unanimous consent. But Trump rejected the deal, which did not include any money for a wall, starting a shutdown that lasted 35 days and was the longest in U.S. history.

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