White House hoping to avoid shutdown, but has contingency plans

The administration is ready with contingency plans in the event of a government shutdown, the White House said Tuesday.

White House press secretary Jay Carney said President Obama is optimistic he can reach an agreement with congressional leaders to avoid a shutdown after the current stopgap funding resolution expires March 4.

Carney, speaking to reporters aboard Air Force One as Obama made his way to Cleveland, said the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has had “contingency plans for government shutdowns since 1980.”

”And those plans are obviously updated accordingly, but they’ve been around for a long time,” Carney said.

Kenneth Baer, OMB communications director, issued a statement confirming those plans.

“As the part of the executive branch charged with overseeing the management of the federal government, OMB is prepared for any contingency as a matter of course — and so are all the agencies. In fact, since 1980, all agencies have had to have a plan in case of a government shutdown, and they routinely update them,” Baer said.

“All of this is besides the point since, as the congressional leadership has said on a number of occasions and as the president has made clear, no one anticipates or wants a government shutdown,” Baer added.

Carney said that the White House continues to believe “we will be able to work out common ground on these issues.”

“I would point you to the fact that all four leaders of Congress, leaders of the House, leaders of the Senate, have expressed their confidence that we can work this out before March 4, and we believe we can,” Carney said.

But Obama is not caving on his pledge to veto the House Republicans’ attempts to slash spending with a continuing resolution that would fund the government for 2011.

”The White House’s position, the president’s position was clearly stated in that statement of administration policy,” Carney said.  “That hasn’t changed.”


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