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The Latest: White House working on avoiding shutdown

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(AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin). With shirts saying "fight poverty not the poor," people with the "Poor People's Campaign" gesture the group to remain quiet as the group leaves the Capitol Rotunda after praying in an act of civil disobedience in protest of... (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin). With shirts saying "fight poverty not the poor," people with the "Poor People's Campaign" gesture the group to remain quiet as the group leaves the Capitol Rotunda after praying in an act of civil disobedience in protest of...

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Latest on Congress and the budget (all times local):

4:30 p.m.

The White House says it is working to keep the government from shutting down when funding runs out on Friday.

Asked whether a shutdown was possible, White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters Tuesday that a shutdown is always possible. But she said "it's certainly not what we hope for."

Sanders noted that Democratic congressional leaders - Rep. Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Chuck Schumer - will attend a White House meeting later this week to discuss spending. The Democrats backed out of a similar meeting last week after President Donald Trump criticized them on Twitter.

Republican leaders have delayed a House vote planned for Wednesday on a short-term budget bill to buy more time to quell GOP divisions over spending and avert a government shutdown over the weekend.

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3:15 p.m.

President Donald Trump has received an earful from four American families who favor the tax-cut legislation pending in Congress.

An Indiana man who works in technology called the bill a "huge win" and said it will help his company attract and keep top-tier talent.

A Virginia man who employs military veterans at a woodworking business argued for a simpler tax code and lower rates.

A North Dakota state lawmaker and environmental specialist at a coal mine said her company is excited about a reduction in the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent.

A second military veteran and Ohio businessman told Trump an easier tax system will help make America stronger.

House and Senate lawmakers still must overcome differences in competing versions of the bill before Trump can sign tax cuts into law.

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1:20 p.m.

President Donald Trump is predicting that Congress will come together quickly to reconcile differences in a sweeping tax overhaul passed by the House and the Senate.

Trump says in a meeting with a half dozen Republican senators at the White House that he calls the joint House-Senate conference committee "the mixer."

Trump says, "everyone gets together and they pick all the good things and get rid of the things they don't like."

In reality, the conference will involve tough negotiations over differences in the two versions of the tax bill that can be approved by both chambers.

Trump says the end result will be "perfecto" and something will come out of conference "pretty quickly."

Trump and the lawmakers were also discussing trade, including ongoing talks over NAFTA.

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12:20 p.m.

Republican leaders have delayed a planned House vote on a short-term budget bill to allow themselves more time to quell GOP divisions over spending and avert a weekend government shutdown.

Party leaders had planned a Wednesday vote on the measure. The bill is designed to keep agencies open until later in December while bargainers address disputes over spending levels and other issues like immigration that have become part of Congress' year-end work.

Signaling problems, the House Rules Committee postponed a planned meeting from Tuesday until Wednesday to work out debating rules for the budget measure. A House GOP leadership aide says the full House now plans to debate the legislation Thursday.

Federal funding runs out at midnight Friday unless it is replenished by Congress.

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11:50 a.m.

A key House Republican leader acknowledges that some tax cuts in the sweeping tax legislation must expire to comply with Senate budget rules.

The tax bill passed by Senate Republicans would let tax cuts for individuals expire in 2026, while the package passed by the House would make them permanent. Lawmakers are now working to reconcile the two bills.

Texas Rep. Kevin Brady says, "We can't achieve permanency in everything."

Republican senators say they made the tax cuts temporary to comply with Senate budget rules that prevented Democrats from blocking the bill. Under the rules, the Senate cannot pass legislation that adds to long-term budget deficits.

Brady chairs the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee and says House Republicans are still deciding which taxes they would sunset.

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10:05 a.m.

House Republican leaders are sticking to their plan for a short-term extension to keep the government open despite opposition from the hard-right Freedom Caucus.

Congress faces a Friday midnight deadline to fund government agencies or face a partial shutdown. Rep. Pete Sessions, chairman of the House Rules Committee, told reporters Tuesday that the House is moving ahead on a two-week extension to Dec. 22. This would give Republicans and Democrats time to negotiation some of the last-minute agenda items such as spending totals, money for children's health care and disaster relief.

Conservatives in the House Freedom Caucus want an extension until Dec. 30, fearing that the short-term date would give Democrats move leverage in negotiations.

The Republican and Democratic leaders in Congress are scheduled to meet with President Donald Trump on Thursday.

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3:20 a.m.

President Donald Trump and congressional leaders have scheduled a summit to begin sorting out their budget differences. That's from top lawmakers and the White House.

And a clash that could produce a partial government shutdown by the weekend hangs in the balance.

The meeting, set for Thursday at the White House, comes just a day before federal spending expires that's needed to keep agencies functioning beyond midnight Friday night.

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