With U.S. legislators still squabbling over how to get the money to finance the government when the new fiscal year starts on October 1, the Biden administration has directed federal agencies to prepare for a possible shutdown after September 30.
Unless Congress passes a funding bill by end of the month, the federal government will face its first shutdown during the ongoing global health crisis, and fifth shutdown in the span of 10 years. A representative for the Office of Management and Budget disclosed the move is being carried out as a precaution.
The U.S. Senate only has a few days left to vote on a measure to halt the $28 trillion debt cap and keep federal agencies in operation after September 30, which is the end of the fiscal year.
Democrats in the House passed a resolution earlier this week to fund the government through December 3, but Republicans have vowed to scrap the bill because it includes a policy to stop the federal debt ceiling.
"The worst time in the world we want to shut down the government is in the middle of a pandemic where 140,000 people per day are getting infected and 2,000 people a day dying," the Washington Post quoted top infectious disease official Dr. Anthony Fauci as saying in an interview.
Kentucky Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has indicated he would support a resolution to keep the government open as long as it doesn't include a condition addressing the debt ceiling.
House Democrats gave the nod for a bill Wednesday that would fund the government until December 3, and halt the U.S. borrowing cap. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen warned that without increasing the limit, the U.S. could default on its loans.
While almost everyone in Washington expects to stave off a shutdown, the tight timeline and the recent disputes between party leaders over the debt cap, means there's still a chance things won't go as planned.
Democrat House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told journalists Thursday that as far as she's concerned, no shutdown will happen. "Whatever it is, we'll have a continuing resolution that passes both houses by end of the month," she said in quotes by the Fiscal Times during a press conference.