The White House is gearing up for the shutdown


The White House is now “gearing up for a shutdown” and senior West Wing officials are planning which personnel will be considered “essential” by October 1 as the government funding deadline is just days away.

Most of President Joe Biden’s senior aides are expected to be designated “essential,” meaning they will not be furloughed, an administration official said. Contingency planning currently underway began Friday when the Office of Management and Budget began the formal process of communicating with agencies about the possibility of halting all operations deemed “non-essential.”

Within the ranks of the White House, prior shutdowns have seen staffers whose roles were titled “Special Assistant to the President” – a rank that also grants access to the Navy mess – automatically served in essential roles. Is considered in. The 2023 directory of White House staff and salaries, submitted to Congress each year, shows 97 staffers with that title.

Even Biden plans to be in Washington this weekend, a relatively rare occurrence as the possibility of a shutdown looms. He typically departs for either his Delaware homes or Camp David on Friday afternoon, but White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters Tuesday that he will remain in the capital.

The active preparations related to White House staffing are another sign of widespread anticipation in Washington that lawmakers on Capitol Hill may fail to find a way to fund the government by the end of the month.

Four days before the funding was set to expire, Senate leadership reached an agreement Tuesday that will keep the government open through Nov. 17 with $6.2 billion in funding for Ukraine and $6 billion for domestic disasters, CNN reports. A White House official said earlier this week that Biden would “broadly support” the Senate-brokered deal, even if it included a fraction of the $24 billion the administration wants to continue in aid to Ukraine.

But even after compromise was reached in the Senate, White House officials said the end result remained largely unpredictable, as it was impossible to predict what House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s next move might be. McCarthy, who may see a tough package with deep spending cuts as a cure for his inter-party politics, has not committed to putting a bipartisan Senate bill on the floor for a vote.

“Ultimately it will come down to Kevin McCarthy and his conference,” John Kirby, the National Security Council’s coordinator for strategic communications, said on CNN’s “The Lead with Jake Tapper.”

Behind the scenes, the White House is not confident that the two houses can reach a mutually agreeable deal in the next few days.

A White House official said of the shutdown, “Nothing is inevitable, but with each day that passes it looks more likely.” “It’s hard to say we’re sure of anything.”

The administration is issuing new warnings this week about what the effects of the shutdown will be, with a focus on travel on Wednesday. The White House warned that the shutdown could risk “significant delays for travelers” across the country.

“During an extreme Republican shutdown, more than 13,000 air traffic controllers and 50,000 transportation security officers – in addition to thousands of other Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Transportation Security Administration (TSA) personnel – would be required to do their vital jobs.” Payments will not be made until funding becomes available, a House news release said.

“In previous shutdowns, this has led to significant delays and long wait times for passengers at airports across the country,” it said.

CNN has reported during previous shutdowns that many TSA and air traffic control workers were forced to walk out of work to find other ways to pay their bills. The White House also noted that the shutdown “will halt air traffic controller training – potentially causing long-term disruption to the industry at a time when we have seen significant progress in filling the backlog of controllers.”

The White House is closely monitoring the ongoing deliberations on Capitol Hill, including McCarthy’s efforts to placate some of the more radical members of his caucus, as well as deliberations in the Senate.

Yet without a direct role in the negotiations, the White House strategy has been as much about messaging as it is about finding a funding solution. Biden aides largely believe Republicans would be to blame if the government is shut down, and the president recorded a video this week pointing to “a small group of extremist House Republicans,” they said. That they are “determined to shut down the government.”

House Republicans, he said, “refuse to stand up to the extremists in their own party — so now everyone in America may be forced to pay a price.”

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