WASHINGTON – Lawmakers were bracing on Saturday for a possible government shutdown in just one week’s time.
President Joe Biden’s administration is sending directives to agencies to begin preparing, while congressional Republicans argue among themselves about how to proceed before the current spending plan expires at midnight next Saturday.
“Extreme House Republicans are marching us toward a government shutdown,” said White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre.
The administration’s Office of Management and Budget advised agencies to update their shutdown plans, including which employees are to be furloughed and which services to curtail.
Even if parts of the government shut down next weekend, essential duties will be maintained, including national defense, law enforcement, Social Security, and Medicare.
Some Republicans, meanwhile, criticized a small group of GOP colleagues for blocking plans to avoid a shutdown, and urged House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., to work with Democrats on a spending that could get through Congress.
“We’re going through a lot of gymnastics right now to get 218 (votes) and you’ve got five (Republicans) who refuse to do it,” said Rep. Don Bacon, R-Neb., speaking on MSNBC. “Let’s just realize that, cut them out, and work with the Democrats.”
One influential Republican, former president and 2024 frontrunner Donald Trump, has all but endorsed a shutdown and urged GOP lawmakers to terminate funding for criminal prosecutions against him. That desire cannot be fulfilled; a shutdown would not affect law enforcement.
Dig deeper: House Republicans cancel votes with just nine days until a possible government shutdown
Over in the Senate, meanwhile, Democratic Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said he is talking with Republican counterpart Mitch McConnell about their own plan to avoid a shutdown.
Given the problems in the House, “we may now have to go first,” Schumer told CNN.
The recalcitrant band of conservatives, led by Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., insist on debating a series of individual spending bills, as opposed to temporary plans to keep the government open after the Sept. 30 deadline. They are also pushing for more spending cuts that the Democratic Senate would reject.
While few in number, the GOP rebel group is large enough to thwart McCarthy’s plans because the Republicans have only a narrow majority in the House. It also large enough to threaten to depose McCarthy as House Speaker.
McCarthy told reporters that members are now working on a series of spending bills to keep the government open.
“We got members working, and hopefully we’ll be able to move forward on Tuesday to pass these bills,” McCarthy said.
The House, which at one time planned to work on Saturday, took the weekend off, drawing catcalls from Biden and some Democrats.
“Last time there was a government shutdown, 800,000 Americans were furloughed or worked without pay,” Biden said on the X social media site. “But enjoy your weekend.”
Related: Trump supports government shutdown as McCarthy, House GOP face new challenges in spending fight
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: One week away: Kevin McCarthy, Joe Biden prep for government shutdown