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White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said on Wednesday he “can’t guarantee” the federal government will avoid a shutdown in December.

While not ruling out a shutdown, Meadows said both parties are trying to reach an agreement to finance government agencies and keep them open.

“Obviously, we want to keep the government funded,” Meadows said, per a Capitol Hill pool report. He called it “a high priority.”

The Trump administration and Congress must approve a dozen spending bills to fund most government agencies by December 11, and those negotiations are ongoing. Both parties are still attempting to bridge divisions over public health funding and childcare among other issues.

Lawmakers could also strike an agreement on a “continuing resolution” that maintains existing federal agency funding for a short period of time. If neither outcome materializes, swaths of the government will shut down.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In 2018, President Donald Trump presided over the longest shutdown in US history, which lasted 35 days. He had demanded Congress fund a border wall with Mexico.

Meadow’s comments come as Trump still refuses to acknowledge President-elect Joe Biden’s election victory. He appears to have largely withdrawn from legislative matters. Congress remains gridlocked on another coronavirus relief package, which many economists say is needed to support individuals and businesses as virus cases surge nationwide.

There are no ongoing discussions between top congressional leaders on another federal rescue package. On Tuesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer called on Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell to restart relief talks. 

Nearly 12 million people could lose their unemployment benefits at the end of the year if lawmakers fail to extend jobless aid, according to a new analysis from the left-leaning Century Foundation.

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Source:: Business Insider

      

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