Federal Agencies Start Preparing for Shutdown

House Speaker McCarthy remains at odds with conservative hardliners
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 22, 2023 1:20 PM CDT
Government Shutdown Looking More Likely
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill, Friday, Sept. 22, 2023, in Washington.   (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

The White House is preparing Friday to direct federal agencies to get ready for a shutdown after House Republicans left town for the weekend with no viable plan to keep the government funded beyond the end of the month. A federal shutdown after Sept. 30 seems all but certain unless Speaker Kevin McCarthy can convince his rebellious hard-right flank of Republicans to allow Congress to approve a temporary funding measure to prevent closures while they work on the annual federal spending plan, per the AP. But the House is not expected back until Tuesday, leaving just five days to resolve his standoff.

"We got members working, and hopefully we'll be able to move forward on Tuesday to pass these bills," McCarthy, R-Calif., told reporters at the Capitol. McCarthy signaled his preference for avoiding a closure, but a hard-right flank of his House majority has effectively seized control. "I still believe if you shut down you're in a weaker position," he said. The standoff with House Republicans over government funding puts at risk a range of activities—including pay for the military and law enforcement personnel, food safety and food aid programs, air travel and passport processing—and could wreak havoc with the US economy.

With the Oct. 1 start of a new fiscal year and no funding in place, the Biden administration's Office of Management and Budget is advising federal agencies to review and update their shutdown plans, according to an OMB official. The start of this process suggests that federal employees could be informed next week if they're to be furloughed. McCarthy faces immense pressure for severe spending cuts from a handful of hard-right conservatives in his caucus, essentially halting his ability to lead the chamber. Many on the right flank are aligned with Donald Trump, who opposed the budget deal the speaker reached with President Biden earlier this year, and are trying to dismantle it.

(Read more Kevin McCarthy stories.)

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