Federal government shutdown in November: Initial preparations for agency communications begin

Washington — The White House Office of Management and Budget on Thursday began initial communications with agencies on how to prepare for a potential government shutdown, as lawmakers on Capitol Hill have not yet settled on a plan to avoid a shutdown by Nov. 17, a source familiar with the plans said.

The communications are part of a standard procedure that outlines the steps needed to shut down non-essential government functions.

“One week before appropriations bills expire, regardless of whether enactment of appropriations appears imminent, OMB will reach out to senior agency officials to remind agencies of their responsibilities to review and update orderly closure plans, and will share a draft communication form for notifying staff of the status of appropriations, “The Budget Circular document issued by the Office of Management and Budget states.

Each department and agency has its own set of plans and procedures. These plans include information about how many employees will be furloughed; Who are the essential employees who will work without pay (for example, air traffic controllers, Secret Service agents, and US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention laboratory staff); How long it will take to complete operations in the hours before closing; What activities will be stopped?

These directives come as House Speaker Mike Johnson has not yet outlined a path forward to avoid a government shutdown. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on Thursday took the first procedural step of putting a government funding bill on the floor so the Senate can pass it to avoid a shutdown. It serves as a backup measure that can be used if the GOP-controlled House is unable to pass a continuing resolution free of controversial measures that Democrats oppose. If passed by the Senate, the House would still have to approve it to avoid a shutdown.

Speaking to reporters ahead of a trip to Illinois, President Joe Biden called on the House to “get to work” as the shutdown looms.

“I hope the House gets down to business,” Biden said. “I’m not being overly sarcastic… This is not just a political statement. The idea that we are toying with a lockdown at this moment in history is bizarre.”

Olivia Dalton, the White House’s principal deputy press secretary, described what could happen next week as a “severe Republican shutdown.”

“The clock is ticking. We are just eight days away from a shutdown that will undermine our economy and national security, harming families and businesses across our country in the process,” Dalton said. “A severe Republican shutdown would force service members and law enforcement officers to work without pay, risk significant delays for travelers, undermine public health, and cut off funding for small businesses. This is unacceptable.”

This will be the second time in as many months that the government has begun preparations for a possible lockdown. Departments and agencies began scaling back their operations in the last week of September as Congress approached a shutdown, which was averted just hours before the deadline when then-House Speaker Kevin McCarthy brought a stopgap measure to the floor — a move that ultimately cost him. speaker.

The government was shut down for a record 35 days from December 2018 to January 2019 amid a congressional impasse over funding for then-President Donald Trump’s border wall. The government also shut down for three days due to a gridlock during the Trump administration in January 2018. In 2013, then-President Barack Obama oversaw a partial 16-day government shutdown over a dispute over the Affordable Care Act and other budget disputes. .

(CNN Wire & 2023 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.)

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