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Government Shutdown: White House Prepares its Federal Agencies

government shutdown
The White House is scrambling to prepare for the possibility of an impending government shutdown. Credit: APK, CC BY-SA-3.0

The White House has begun advising its federal agencies to be ready for the possibility of a government shutdown.

In what would be the first government shutdown of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Biden Administration’s Office of Management and Budget has alerted federal agencies that if there is no new appropriations bill there will be a shutdown next week.

Democrats in Congress were working overtime on Thursday in order to meet a group of deadlines that have massive importance to the U.S. economy and President Joe Biden’s economic agenda.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., are working together in order to avoid the event of a government shutdown, as well as a default on U.S. debt and the thwarting of Biden’s vision for the country.

Their first task is to meet a Sept. 30 deadline to pass an an appropriations bill to allocate federal funds across the government’s agencies, programs, and departments.

Administration warns federal agencies and departments to prepare for a government shutdown

The administration’s Office of Management and Budget has been informing department and agency leaders that if the new appropriations bill is not passed in time they should prepare to execute shutdown planes at the end of next week. For most of these agencies, that means telling workers to stay home.

The office usually gives agencies a week before a government shutdown to change their plans. The office also gives each agency and department a draft template for updating government employees on Congress’s efforts to pass a funding bill and how many workers will be furloughed.

This message does not represent the office’s opinion on whether or not a resolution will be found, but rather a formal communication.

The push to pass a new budget in time is currently in full force on Capitol Hill as House Democrats approved a funding for the government, suspended the debt ceiling and approved emergency aid for disaster relief.

Although it was passed at the beginning of this week, it is predicted to stall in the Senate, where the majority of Republicans are opposed to anything that plans to raise or suspend the debt ceiling.

Congress must pass this new budget before October in order to prevent a shutdown, but they must also find a way to increase or suspend the debt ceiling by a yet to be determined “drop-dead” date.

A “drop-dead” date is terminology for the absolute final date by which something can take place, with no possibilities for extension.

Raising or suspending the debt ceiling, which refers to the government’s borrowing limit, does not grant the government the ability to authorize new spending, but gives the Treasury the ability to pay for the legislation that has already been approved. Raising the ceiling would let the department pay off debts pertaining to the trillions of dollars in COVID relief distributed under former President Donald Trump and Biden.


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