– 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 (CR) will expire. Congress must pass an omnibus spending measure crafted with higher spending limits in a budget deal already signed into law, or send President 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 on 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 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.

Senate OKs USAID nominee

The Senate on Monday confirmed President Obama's nominee to lead the U.S. Agency for International Development after months of delay rooted in a separate dispute over the international nuclear deal with Iran.

Senators voted 79-7 to confirm Gayle Smith to be administrator of USAID. Smith, senior director for development and democracy at the White House's National Security Council, has had a diverse career working on humanitarian efforts in and out of government.

Her nomination was approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in July but has been held up for months by Republicans ­controlling the chamber.