Government Shutdown: Time Runs Out at Midnight

April 8, 2011 | By Liza Casabona | Post a Comment

The witching hour approaches. Unless budget negotiators can pull out a last-minute compromise over fiscal year 2011′s spending priorities, at midnight tonight the federal government turns into a pumpkin—a very large, inanimate and inoperable pumpkin.

Reports early on Friday indicated that there was agreement on the headline figure for cuts, but not on how those cuts would be implemented. But by mid-afternoon it looked like both parties had retreated further away instead of moving closer to a deal.

Democrats on Friday placed blame squarely on Republican shoulders and framed the lack of compromise as the result of disagreement over spending on women’s health programs, particularly whether or not to fund Planned Parenthood. That could be a political strategy, at this stage there’s no telling what’s actually happening behind closed doors, but either way it’s hardly talk that generates hope for a last minute deal.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, issued statements throughout the day Friday repeatedly stressing that there was no agreement on how deep spending cuts should go.

Anything is possible. A compromise could be reached tonight, but federal agencies and workers are preparing for the worst. The White House has already sent the Office of Management and Budget its contingency shutdown plan outlining how many staffers will be considered essential in the Executive Branch and OMB released its own guidance yesterday with frequently asked questions and some technical guidance.

Federal agencies were directed to communicate their contingency plans for a shutdown to employees by the end of today, and shutdown plans will be implemented tomorrow if no agreement is finalized by midnight. Even if agreement is reached today, shutdown plans could still be implemented if there isn’t enough time to get a budget done before the clock strikes 12 o’clock. (Photo credit: Adrianne Fielding)

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