A view of the Pentagon and the Washington Monument.

A view of the Pentagon and the Washington Monument. 11th Wing Public Affairs by Senior Airman Perry Aston

Government Agencies Told To Prepare for Another Shutdown

The Office of Emergency Management is instructing federal agencies to get ready for another government shutdown as Congress continues to debate how to fund the government. By Eric Katz

The Office of Management and Budget held a conference call Thursday to instruct federal agencies to prepare for a possible government shutdown, according to an OMB official.  

Congress’ plans to fund agencies past Thursday were in flux as of Thursday afternoon, with most Democrats and many Republicans vowing to oppose passage of the “CRomnibus” legislation. The conference call was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.

The White House, which supports the spending package despite several riders that drew the ire of House Democrats, believes a shutdown will be staved off. However, in the event Congress fails to deliver any legislation to keep agencies open, it wants federal offices to be ready to act.

“We continue to believe that time remains for Congress to pass full-year appropriations for [fiscal year] 2015 and prevent a government shutdown,” an OMB official confirmed to Government Executive. “However, out of an abundance of caution, we are working with agencies and taking steps to prepare for all contingencies, including a potential lapse in funding.”

Agencies will likely draw upon their shutdown guidance from 2013, when the government closed for two weeks. Each agency detailed before the shutdown last year which offices would close, and which would remain open due to exemptions and exceptions. The memoranda also spelled out how many employees would be forced to take unpaid furloughs.

If agencies mimicked their 2013 shutdown plans, around 900,000 federal employees would not report to work Friday morning, should Congress fail to pass an appropriations or short-term spending measure.

A preliminary procedural vote Thursday morning on the CRomnibus was unexpectedly tight, winning approval with just one vote to spare and without any Democratic support. House leaders were forced to delay final passage of the measure as they rallied votes to avoid a shutdown.