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By John T. Bennett, CQ-Roll Call (TNS)

WASHINGTON — The White House is signaling it would not block a short-term spending bill to avert a government shutdown should lawmakers need to keep working on a massive spending measure after the Dec. 11 deadline.

That date is when an existing government-wide continuing resolution will expire. By 11:59 p.m. Eastern that day, Congress must pass an omnibus spending measure crafted to higher spending limits in a budget deal already signed into law, or send President Barack Obama another short-term measure. The alternative is a government shutdown just weeks before Christmas.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest, briefing reporters in Paris Monday, put the onus on Republican leaders to avoid a shutdown.

He said White House officials “take some solace in” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s past statements about opposing more government shutdowns. Earnest also repeated a line he has used in recent months, saying he doubts Speaker Paul D. Ryan wants to preside over a shutdown so early in his new job.

Earnest said Obama would not sign a long-term continuing resolution. The White House has for most of the year pushed for increased domestic spending, an objective it secured in the recent bipartisan budget deal.

However, Earnest said the president would put his signature on a short-term CR should lawmakers need another few days to complete a year-end budget bill.

Earlier Monday, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., told reporters lawmakers might need to pass a one-week CR that would give them until Dec. 18 to complete work on the omnibus measure, which would include higher defense and domestic spending levels.

©2015 CQ-Roll Call, Inc., All Rights Reserved. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Photo: White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest speaks during a press briefing at the White House in Washington September 3, 2015. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

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