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Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images

It's looking increasingly likely that Congress will fund the government by the Sept. 30 deadline without too much hubbub.

What we're hearing: Leadership sources from both parties tell me they think they can pass between five and nine spending bills, including the mammoth defense bill, funding more than half of the discretionary budget. They would then pass the remaining bills using a continuing resolution.

Between the lines: My sources in the Senate — which has already passed nine spending bills, the chamber's most since 2000 — are more optimistic than those in the House. And while plenty can go wrong when they get together in conference, both parties sound fairly sanguine about dodging a catastrophe.

The bottom line: The wild card, of course, is President Trump. Even though he's itching to pick a fight with Democrats over funding of his wall, he's privately assured both Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell that he won't shut down the government before the midterms.

But a source close to Trump told me that while they're almost certain he'll keep that promise, they still hear a whisper of doubt.

  • "[The wall] is on his mind," the source said. "I think I would still say we are not going to have a shutdown...and yes, he has explicitly told Ryan and McConnell he won't, but he talks about the wall and keeps talking about it."
  • "I won't rule it [a shutdown] out because it's his biggest issue and he wants to have this discussion before the election. ... In his gut, he thinks it's good politics."

Go deeper

1 hour ago - World

Maximum pressure campaign escalates with Fakhrizadeh killing

Photo: Fars News Agency via AP

The assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the architect of Iran’s military nuclear program, is a new height in the maximum pressure campaign led by the Trump administration and the Netanyahu government against Iran.

Why it matters: It exceeds the capture of the Iranian nuclear archives by the Mossad, and the sabotage in the advanced centrifuge facility in Natanz.

Scoop: Biden weighs retired General Lloyd Austin for Pentagon chief

Lloyd Austin testifying before Congress in 2015. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Joe Biden is considering retired four-star General Lloyd Austin as his nominee for defense secretary, adding him to a shortlist that includes Jeh Johnson, Tammy Duckworth and Michele Flournoy, two sources with direct knowledge of the decision-making tell Axios.

Why it matters: A nominee for Pentagon chief was noticeably absent when the president-elect rolled out his national security team Tuesday. Flournoy had been widely seen as the likely pick, but Axios is told other factors — race, experience, Biden's comfort level — have come into play.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: WHO: AstraZeneca vaccine must be evaluated on "more than a press release."
  2. Politics: Supreme Court backs religious groups on New York COVID restrictions.
  3. World: Thailand, Philippines sign deal with AstraZeneca for vaccine.
  4. Economy: Safety nets to disappear in December Black Friday shopping across the U.S., in photosAmazon hires 1,400 workers a day throughout pandemic.
  5. Education: National standardized tests delayed until 2022.

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