Administration

White House prepping agencies for possible shutdown

The Biden administration is set to notify federal agencies on Thursday to prepare for a potential government shutdown as the White House makes preparations to mitigate impacts on the pandemic response and other services.

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is expected to remind agencies to review plans for a potential shutdown, which will happen if Congress does not fund the government before the end of the month.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters the OMB reminder is standard practice.

"It's just a reminder, we're seven days out and we need to be prepared of course in any event of any contingencies, so we see this as a routine step, and one just to be prepared in any event of what could happen," Psaki said.

Psaki reiterated the White House is taking steps to guard against the potential fallout of a pandemic, which would restrict government services and could hamper the country's economic recovery amid the pandemic.

Public health agencies, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, are generally exempt from shutdowns and will continue to operate, Psaki said. 

"But large swaths of the federal government coming to a screeching halt would certainly not be beneficial to pandemic response," she said. "But we are doing everything we can to mitigate."

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) vowed Thursday that Congress will find a way to avert a government shutdown next week, dismissing threats from Senate Republicans who intend to block the legislation.

The House on Tuesday passed a legislative package to extend government funding through Dec. 3 and provide emergency funds for resettling Afghan refugees and responding to a series of natural disasters around the U.S. On its own, that package has broad bipartisan support.

But Democratic leaders also attached language to suspend the debt limit in the face of warnings that the Treasury Department will exhaust its borrowing authority sometime next month. A government default, economists of all stripes have warned, would tank the U.S. economy and send reverberations around the globe.

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