Thursday marks seven days before the government is set to run out of money, and by standard procedure, that reminder is going out.
The House has passed a bill to fund the government until December, but tied that legislation to a provision to address the debt ceiling. That bill does not have the 60 votes to pass the Senate, where Republicans have remained steadfast in their opposition to raising the debt limit.
“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. In the meantime, prudent management requires that the government plan for the possibility of a lapse in funding,” OMB spokesman Abdullah Hasan said in a statement to CNN.
“Consistent with longstanding practice across multiple administrations, OMB is preparing for any contingency, and determinations about specific programs are being actively reviewed by agencies,” Hasan added. “More importantly, there is enough time for Congress to prevent a lapse in appropriations, and we are confident they will do so.”
On Capitol Hill, there are quiet discussions among Democrats about an alternative bill to at least keep the government funded before the September 30 deadline without a debt limit provision. What that would entail — or if Democrats take that path — is not yet clear. But it underscores a quiet view on both sides of Pennsylvania Ave.: a government shutdown is simply not an option at this highest stakes of moments for Biden’s domestic legislative agenda.
Those plans include information on how many employees would get furloughed, what employees are essential and would work without pay (for example, air traffic controllers, Secret Service agents, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention laboratory staff), how long it would take to wind down operations in the hours before a shutdown, and what activities would come to a halt.