Updated at 11:00 a.m. ET

On the 34th day of the partial government shutdown, there are some small signs of movement between Congressional Democrats and the White House that could conceivably end the standoff between the two sides.

House Democratic leaders are considering a proposal that would fund increased security measure at the border, but not the wall that President Trump has been demanding.

Top Democrats and their aides say the proposal will outline the mutual border security priorities for President Trump and members of Congress, but include no new funding for any wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., declined to offer specifics which are being worked out by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and the House Homeland Security Committee, but he said Democrats are prepared to make an offer that includes significant new spending on border measures.

"We are prepared to spend a very substantial sum of money because we share the view that the border needs to be secure," Hoyer said. "The letter is going to articulate what we believe is an effective investment to accomplish border security."

Trump wants $5.7 billion for the wall, and the Democrats' proposal could exceed that amount.

Appearing on NPR's Morning Edition, White House director of strategic communications Mercedes Schlapp did not immediately rule the idea out. "Why don't we have the Democrats come over and propose that over to the president?" she said. "What we need is a conversation."

But it's not clear if Trump would sign off on the offer.

Meanwhile the Senate has scheduled votes for Thursday afternoon one two different plans to reopen the government. One, proposed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., would allocate money for the wall and provide funding to reopen the government. The other, offered by minority leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., would reopen the government for three weeks while negotiations over the border wall continued. Neither plan is expected to receive the 60 votes necessary to pass.

Food pantries

Some 800,000 federal employees will miss their second paycheck this week because of the shutdown. Many have been have been visiting food pantries set up in several cities.

In an interview on CNBC Thursday, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said "I don't quite understand why" federal workers are going to food banks, suggesting they apply for loans to make ends meet until they receive back pay. "There is really not a good excuse" for why the affected workers face what Ross termed "a liquidity crisis."

Five former secretaries of Homeland Security, including John Kelly, President Trump's first secretary who also served as chief of staff, wrote a letter to Congress and the President urging they end the shutdown.

"DHS employees who protect the traveling public, investigate and counter terrorism, and protect critical infrastructure should not have to rely on the charitable generosity of others for assistance in feeding their families and paying their bills while they steadfastly focus on the mission at hand," the secretaries wrote. "This is unconscionable."

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.