“I really think those two are trying. I’ve talked to both, individually, and they both want something to happen,” said Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), who is a member of Schumer’s leadership team and the rare Democrat who speaks with McConnell privately. “If it was left to Schumer and McConnell we wouldn’t be here. People would be working.”

There are early signs that the two leaders have an exceedingly narrow path to maneuver. Two Republican sources familiar with ongoing talks said Schumer is better off talking to the White House, while a spokesman for Schumer said the Democrat made clear to McConnell that Democrats “will not support funding for the wall, prorated or otherwise.”

And though McConnell and Schumer are both known as pragmatic strategists, they’ve been constrained by forces beyond their control. There’s Trump, of course, who wants his border wall and dismissed an initial funding measure backed by McConnell and Schumer in December. And there’s Pelosi, who now outranks Schumer in the party and is leading a caucus filled with liberals who feel no need to compromise with Trump.