Shutdown plans being made by White House, Congress

By Suzanne Kubota
Senior Internet Editor
FederalNewsRadio.com

Storm clouds rolled into Washington Tuesday morning, and not just figuratively speaking.

Both Congress and the White House are making plans in case a shutdown can’t be avoided before 12 a.m. Saturday when the current continuing resolution runs out.

House Speaker John Boehner said Tuesday that a private meeting with President Obama failed to produce a deal that would avoid a shutdown.

Boehner said House Republicans “will not be put in a box” of accepting options they refuse to endorse.

Ken Baer, OMB director of communications, said, “The President has been clear that he does not want a shutdown, and that is why the Administration has been working hard to find common ground and has moved to meet the Republicans more than halfway to get a funding bill passed. But we are aware of the calendar, and to be prudent and prepare for the chance that Congress may not pass a funding bill in time, OMB [yesterday] encouraged agency heads to begin sharing their contingency plans with senior managers throughout their organization to ensure that they have their feedback and input. As the week progresses, we will continue to take necessary steps to prepare for the possibility that Congress is unable to come to agreement and a lapse in government funding ensues.”

At the same time, House GOP leaders plan to distribute a pamphlet this morning to all lawmakers telling them what their own offices should do in a shutdown. According to Politico, the pamphlet is “designed to give guidance on which employees are considered essential and which are not allowed to work during a shutdown, advise congressional staff about the status of their benefits during a shutdown and outline which House services will continue to operate.”

To follow its own rules, the House must post its final budget bill this evening to allow 72 hours before a vote. The Hill’s Erik Wasson told Federal News Radio, “I would think that that rule might go by the wayside,” and be waived.

House Republicans have readied a week-long bill to avert a government shutdown if a full-year bill can’t be reached. That extension includes, among other things, spending cuts totaling $12 billion and includes enough money to operate the Defense Department through Sept. 30.

Boehner told the rank and file in a closed-door meeting last night he would seek passage of the bill if it became clear it was necessary to avoid shutting the government down.

But The Hill newspaper reports “nine House Republican freshman and a senior GOP lawmaker, Rep. Bob Goodlatte (Va.), called on the Democrat-controlled Senate to pass a long-term CR.”

The New York Times reports there are new obstacles in the budget talks. “The announcement by Speaker John A. Boehner that Republicans would not settle for the $33 billion in cuts that Senate Democrats and the White House have portrayed as the agreed-upon middle ground in the spending fight added a new complication to already-strained talks between House negotiators and the Senate leadership.”

The White House says everyone understands spending cuts are needed, and adds that “significant progress has been made.”

According to The Washington Post, “this fiscal year marks the longest period that the federal government has gone without an agreed-upon budget since at least the late 1970s.”

NOTABLE QUOTES:

  • “If the government shuts down, it will be because Senate Democrats failed to do their job.” House Speaker John Boehner R-Ohio.
  • “The other side isn’t being reasonable.” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. Reported by UPI.
  • “There is general agreement that the two sides must work out a deal by Tuesday night if it is to work its way through both chambers and reach President Obama’s desk before the government runs out of money Friday.” Paul Kane and Jon Cohen in the Washington Post.
  • “We are aware of the calendar, and to be prudent and prepare for the chance that Congress may not pass a funding bill in time, OMB [yesterday] encouraged agency heads to begin sharing their contingency plans with senior managers throughout their organizations to ensure that they will have their feedback and input.” Kenneth Baer, Office of Management and Budget.
  • “The message that we want to send is that Congress must do its job for federal employees to do their jobs.” Colleen Kelley, president NTEU, encouraging federal employees to call their congressional representatives today.
  • “In the end there will be a deal because a shutdown doesn’t do anyone any good,” a senior Republican aide told Reuters.

And Finally:

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., unveiled the GOP budget blueprint for FY 2012 Tuesday morning.

“I have a funny feeling we’ll be back in the same position in October and September when the new fiscal year starts.” Erik Wasson, staff writer for The Hill, tells Federal News Radio.

RELATED STORIES

Budget Resource Page

Shutdown Coverage

Federal furlough FAQ

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