As Congress scrambles to reach a consensus on the annual spending bills by the Sept. 30 deadline, the threat of a government shutdown grows more plausible. Federal agencies have begun receiving warnings to prepare for its third shutdown in the past three years.
In a standard procedure, the administration’s Office of Management and Budget told agency leaders to prepare for a shutdown if Congress does not reach a government funding agreement by its expiration date, CBS News reports.
“Every single member of this chamber is going to go on record as to whether they support keeping the government open and averting a default, or support shutting us down and careening our country toward a first-ever default,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said to open debate on the chamber floor on Thursday.
If the government shuts down, federal employees could be temporarily sent home without pay until more funding is granted. Other employees, like those in law enforcement, national security officials, and the military, would have to work without pay.
Loan and passport applications, immigration court proceedings, food stamps, food safety inspections, free lunches in schools, and Social Security checks could also be affected by a shutdown, The Washington Post noted.
“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,” said Abdullah Hasan, an OMB spokesman, in a statement.
“In the meantime, prudent management requires that the government plan for the possibility of a lapse in funding. Consistent with long-standing practice across multiple Administrations, OMB is preparing for any contingency, and determinations about specific programs are being actively reviewed by agencies,” he added.
The House approved a short-term measure to fund the government, suspend the debt ceiling, and provide emergency aid, such as disaster relief, however, all Senate Republicans are expected to vote against the spending bill.
CNN reported that there are not enough Republicans who will support the funding bill that Senate Democrats plan to vote on in the coming days. Democrats are insisting that there will not be a shutdown amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The worst time in the world we want to shut down the government is in the middle of a pandemic where we have 140,000 people a day getting infected and 2,000 people a day dying,” President Biden’s chief medical advisor, Dr. Anthony Fauci, told the Post.
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