Government Shutdown, First In 15 Years, Looms

Financial News Network
April 05, 2011 AT 9:02 PM
The White House Office of Management and Budget has notified federal agencies to start preparing and sharing contingency plans in case the government shuts down on Friday.In an email obtained by CNN, OMB Deputy Director for Management Jeffrey Zients tells agency officials that "given the realities of the calendar, good management requires that we continue contingency planning for an orderly shutdown should the negotiations not be completed" by Friday. The memo was sent Monday afternoon to all Deputy Secretaries and Chiefs of Staff, according to a government official.The last government shutdown happened during Bill Clinton's administration in 1995, at a time when Republicans controlled both the House and the Senate, while Bill Clinton, a Democrat, occupied the White House."The President has been clear that he does not want a shutdown," said OMB spokesman Kenneth Baer. "As the week progresses, we will continue to take necessary steps to prepare for the possibility that Congress is unable to come to agreement and a lapse in government funding ensues."Most of the 4.4 million federal workers, including members of the U.S. military, will still go to work, since they are considered essential. Essential personnel in the last shutdown also included federal criminal investigators, those involved in federal disaster assistance and workers vital to keeping crucial elements of the U.S. money and banking system up and running.During the shutdown 15 years ago, toxic waste cleanup at 609 sites was halted; the National Institute of Health was unable to accept new patients into clinical research and was also unable to answer hotline calls, which mostly concern diseases. National parks and museums were closed, an estimated 200,000 applications for passports went unprocessed, and work on more than 3,500 bankruptcy cases was suspended.Republicans proposed a plan late Monday night that would give negotiators another week to make a budget deal. Without some kind of compromise or extension, the federal government will run out of funding this Friday night, giving the two parties just 3 more days to negotiate.