White House Prepares for Potential Government Shutdown

The White House has started telling government agencies to prepare for a potential government shutdown as Democrats in Congress race to pass a stopgap funding bill before the Sept. 30 deadline.

“We are taking every step we can to mitigate the impacts of a potential shutdown on our pandemic response, economic recovery, or other priorities,” White House Press Jen Psaki said in a press briefing on Sept. 23.

“This is not formal guidance being given, it’s just a reminder — we’re seven days out, and we need to be prepared, of course, in any event, of any contingency,” Psaki further said.

Congress is scrambling to beat a series of deadlines for a number of legislative priorities, including an appropriations bill before government funding lapses.

If Congress does not pass the funding bill before the deadline, the federal government will face its first shutdown during the COVID-19 pandemic and the fifth in a decade.

“We fully expect Congress to work in a bipartisan fashion to keep our government open, get disaster relief to the Americans who need it, and avoid a catastrophic default, especially as we continue to confront the pandemic and power an economic recovery,” White House Office of Management and Budget Spokesperson Abdullah Hasan said in an email to magazine Barron’s.

House Democrats approved a bill on Sept. 22 to fund the government until Dec. 3, suspend the debt ceiling, and approve emergency aid. However, it is expected to stall in the Senate where it has strong opposition from Republicans.

Earlier, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced that they have reached an agreement on a framework for taxes that would be needed to fund their $3.5 trillion social safety net bill.

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