White House preparing for government shutdown

Updated: 2015-09-24 09:03


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WASHINGTON -- The White House said Wednesday the federal government had already begun planning for a possible shutdown.

"It is only prudent for the federal government to begin planning for the possibility that the government could shut down," said White House spokesman Josh Earnest at the daily briefing.

The federal government will shut down on Oct. 1 if Congress fails to pass a spending bill for the fiscal year 2016 before then.

While Republican lawmakers have pledged to oppose any spending bill that doesn't defund Planned Parenthood, an organization which provides reproductive health and maternal and child health services, their Democratic counterparts would block any bill that targets the organization.

According to earlier local media reports, the Obama administration on Monday told senior agency officials to "remind agencies of their responsibilities to review and update orderly shutdown plans."

Calling such notifications as unfortunate routine, Earnest called for US lawmakers to overcome "budgetary brinkmanship on Capitol Hill."

"There is a process that we unfortunately are becoming all too familiar with by which the government prepares for the possibility of a government shutdown," said Earnest.

The partisan fight over defunding Planned Parenthood was prompted this summer by controversy about the use of aborted fetuses in medical research and represented an increasingly tense infighting within the Republican Party between conservatives and Republican leadership in both chambers of US Congress.

The issue of defunding Planned Parenthood also put John Boehner's position as Speaker of the House at risk, as the conservative wings within the Republican Party had threatened to oust Boehner over a failure to defund Planned Parenthood.

Boehner and the Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell had for long pledged to fend off any government shutdown while helming the Congress.

The federal government was shut down for 16 days in 2013 after the Congress failed to pass a spending bill over Republicans' attack on the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.