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Deadline Looms for US Lawmakers to Pass Budget Bill

U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.

U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.

The White House says congressional negotiators appear to be making progress to avert a government shutdown, as the deadline to reach an agreement on a budget bill looms.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said care should be taken so the economy is not affected. He said negotiators should work on a short-term spending measure that would give lawmakers enough time to produce legislation to fund the government through the rest of the fiscal year.

The current funding for the government expires on Friday. A shutdown would affect non-essential government services, and temporarily lay off hundreds of thousands of federal workers.

Huge differences exist between Republicans and President Barack Obama's Democrats on the size of budget cuts that are needed and the role of government in people's lives.

President Obama has urged lawmakers to find common ground and pass a budget agreement before the current funding runs out.

The federal government has been running on temporary spending bills since late last year, as Congress has not passed a budget for the 2011 fiscal year, which began October 1.

The last federal government shutdowns occurred in late 1995 and early 1996 when then-president Bill Clinton and Republican congressional leaders sparred over the budget.