The White House told federal agencies to be ready to begin to notify workers about the prospect that government funding could lapse.
A federal government shutdown this weekend looks increasingly likely, as House Republicans indicated Wednesday they would not consider a bipartisan Senate plan to fund the government past the weekend deadline.
In light of the standoff in Congress, the White House Office of Management and Budget told federal agencies Wednesday to be prepared to notify their employees of the status of government funding, two people familiar with the matter told The Washington Post, speaking on the condition of anonymity to describe internal planning. Those updates will occur Thursday morning, as part of the government’s mandatory contingency process.
Agencies will begin notifying employees sometime this week about whether they will be furloughed, but it is unclear exactly when. Senior officials across the federal government have already begun discussing who will be furloughed and who will continue working without pay, one of the people said.
On Capitol Hill, the two chambers are working on diverging tracks to extend government funding, which is set to expire at 12:01 a.m. Sunday. The Senate worked Wednesday on a bill to continue funding at current levels into mid-November, which would also supply some of the billions of dollars President Biden seeks for U.S. aid to Ukraine and for natural disaster relief. But House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) rejected that measure, telling his conference in a closed-door meeting Wednesday morning that he would not put the Senate bill on the floor in its current form.
There appeared to be no talks underway between the House and the Senate to craft a short-term spending bill that both chambers can agree on. Instead, each chamber will try to pass its own legislation and challenge the other to take it up or reject it.
Biden said a shutdown would be “disastrous.”
“We made a deal,” Biden said in remarks to a Democratic fundraiser in San Francisco on Wednesday night, referring to an agreement with McCarthy in June to suspend the U.S. debt ceiling and set federal spending limits for this year. “Now they come along and say … we didn’t mean it.”
McCarthy, in private meetings this week, has started to float alternative plans for the GOP-controlled House to counter the Democratic-controlled Senate’s bipartisan progress. The speaker has suggested taking the Senate’s short-term bill, stripping it of provisions House Republicans oppose — including emergency aid for Ukraine and domestic disaster victims — then tacking on a House-passed border security bill and sending it back to the Senate.
Separately, McCarthy and his allies have continued to encourage their colleagues to pass a short-term spending bill, called a continuing resolution, or CR, on Friday, which would include funding for border security, in a signal of defiance to the Senate. Exactly how long the CR would last remains up in the air, but the contours largely follow the deal struck last week by the pragmatic Main Street Caucus and the Freedom Caucus. That would mean cutting spending levels for most of the federal government by about 8 percent but leaving spending on the military and veterans untouched.