Trump admin pledges to minimize impact of government shutdown

Trump admin pledges to minimize impact of government shutdown
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The White House on Friday emphasized that the Trump administration is working to mitigate the impact of a potential government shutdown on the American people.

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“You’re seeing, across the board, efforts by the administration in each of the agencies to minimize the impact of the shutdown on the American people,” an official said on a call with reporters late in the day, as the shutdown became increasingly likely under a looming midnight deadline.

“We’ve instructed agencies to minimize the impact. My impression is that other administrations worked to maximize impacts,” another official said.

Current federal government funding is expiring at midnight. The House passed a stopgap funding measure Friday, but the Senate appears headed toward rejecting that measure late Friday night, leading to a funding lapse.

Senior administration officials said that some nonessential government functions will necessarily have to stop at some point, like paychecks to federal employees and most federal agency functions.

But the administration has been pushing agencies to figure out ways to use carry-over funds, multiyear appropriations and other mechanisms to delay shutting down.

White House Office of Management and Budget Director Mick MulvaneyMick MulvaneyHeadhunters having hard time finding jobs for former Trump officials: report Trump holdovers are denying Social Security benefits to the hardest working Americans Mulvaney calls Trump's comments on Capitol riot 'manifestly false' MORE earlier Friday charged that the Obama administration in 2013 “weaponized” the shutdown, while the Trump administration is taking the opposite tact. The implication is that the previous administration sought to cast blame on the opposite party.

For example, in the event of an upcoming shutdown, the National Park Service plans to keep parks open, even though most staff can’t be there, in contrast with the Obama administration's decision to close parks.

The Department of Transportation’s Merchant Marine Academy will stay open, unlike in 2013. And the Labor Department will keep more mine safety inspectors on board.

However, while Obama in 2013 signed a law that ensured the military would be paid throughout the shutdown, Trump has signed no such legislation.

Additionally, while Postal Service and Transportation Security Administration workers would work through an upcoming shutdown, they also did so five years ago.

Numerous agencies announced Friday or in recent days that they have money to stay open for some period of time or through a shutdown event — such as the Environmental Protection Agency or the Department of Energy.

“In many cases they did use their carry-over balances, but in many cases they did not, or at a minimum the use of those balances was not emphasized to the same degree as something that would be important for agencies to consider when they’re looking at all contingencies that they can use,” an official said of 2013.

“We’ve, as a general matter, been encouraging agencies to review their lapse plans and to do as much as they can, consistent with the law, to keep things up and running," the official continued.

Officials demurred when asked to cite evidence that the Obama administration actively sought to make the 2013 shutdown more painful.

“Our job is not to uncover evidence of past administrations’ malfeasance,” one said.

The official pointed to open-air monuments in Washington, D.C., that were barricaded.

“The implication was that access to those open-air monuments was denied in the last shutdown," the official said.

The White House starts preparing agencies for shutdowns seven days before funding is due to lapse, which means the administration has already gone through the process three times in the last year, officials said.