Online Staff Report
Congress faces the threat of a partial government shutdown if it fails to pass a funding bill by its midnight, Friday, Dec. 16, deadline.
Lawmakers were to release a long-term spending bill this week to keep government functional through September. Although they have yet to reach an agreement, both sides of the aisle seemed confident an agreement could be reached in time to avoid a government shutdown.
“We can extend payroll tax relief for American workers and create new jobs and keep the government running and, frankly, we can do it in a bipartisan way,” House Speaker U.S. Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, said.
Meantime, President Barack Obama said: “There’s no reason why we shouldn’t be able to extend these items, the payroll tax cut, u.i. (unemployment insurance) before holidays. There’s no reason the government should shut down over this, and I expect all of us to do what’s necessary in order to do the people’s business and make sure that it’s done before the end of the year.”
Two short-term spending measures have helped prop up government operations since the fiscal year began Oct. 1.
According to a report in The Washington Post, “As many as 600,000 federal employees could be furloughed in the coming days if Congress fails to pass a spending measure by midnight Friday, and dozens of federal agencies began telling workers Thursday whether or not they would need to work during a spending impasse.”
National Federation of Federal Employees President William R. Dougan said in a statement that a shutdown “would be devastating for federal workers at agencies where funding has not yet been approved by Congress.
“Federal workers shouldn’t have to spend the holidays worrying about how to make their next mortgage payment simply because Congress can’t get its act together,” Dougan’s statement added. “Federal employees, and indeed all Americans, deserve better from their government.”
A partial spending bill passed in November ensures certain agencies — including the departments of Agriculture, Commerce, House and Urban Development, Justice, State and Transportation, and NASA — will not be shut down.
Similar warnings of a government shutdown were made in April as Congress and the White House faced a similar funding roadblock. The warnings were only issued to government employees after they complained about being kept in the dark about potential backup plans.