White House says a shutdown is still avoidable

The White House continues to express confidence that a last-minute deal will be reached to fund the government before a shutdown is triggered on March 4.

"We believe there is the strong potential there for us to reach an agreement to avoid what you called a government shutdown," Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters in Wednesday's briefing.

Asked about whether the administration was involved in negotiations on a short-term continuing resolution -- which may be used to temporarily fund the government when the current CR runs out on March 4 -- Carney declined to give specifics.

"There are other steps that have to be decided between the House and the Senate," he said. "We are certainly participating in a process and are optimistic that decisions can be made to resolve this without harmful effects to our economy."

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