The White House budget office will tell federal agencies on Thursday to begin preparing for a government shutdown, the first since the pandemic began, The Washington Post reports.
Luckily, however, lawmakers have until Sept. 30 to reach a funding agreement, and administration officials insist the budget office's "request is in line with traditional procedures seven days ahead of a shutdown and not a commentary on the likelihood of a congressional deal," writes the Post.
Abdullah Hasan, a spokesperson for the Office of Management and Budget, said "we fully expect" Congress to avoid a shutdown, but "prudent management requires that the government plan for the possibility of a lapse in funding."
Still, considering an agreement has not been reached, the OMB will tell federal agencies to "review and revise" their emergency shutdown plans. The funding plan approved by House Democrats earlier this week is "expected to die in the Senate amid GOP refusal to support Democratic attempts to life the debt ceiling," writes the Post.
Notably, a shutdown during the ongoing pandemic would add "unbelievable complications to our ability to recover," noted Bill Hoagland, a senior vice president at the Bipartisan Policy Center.
Added Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), a member of the Senate Budget Committee: "We're looking at all the options, but a government shutdown is not acceptable." Read more at The Washington Post.