The White House is preparing for a possible government shutdown as the deadline to fund the government approaches. Senior officials are drawing up plans to determine which personnel would be considered “essential.” Most of President Biden’s senior aides are expected to be designated as essential and would not be furloughed. Previous shutdowns have seen employees with the title “Special Assistant to the President” automatically considered essential. The preparations reflect the anticipation in Washington that lawmakers may fail to reach a funding agreement by the end of the month.
With four days left until funding expires, Senate leadership has reached a deal to keep the government open through November 17. The deal includes $6.2 billion in funding for Ukraine and $6 billion for domestic disasters. President Biden has expressed broad support for the Senate-brokered deal, even if it falls short of the administration’s initial funding request for Ukraine. However, there remains uncertainty about the outcome of the negotiations, particularly regarding House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s next moves. The White House is not confident that both chambers can reach a mutually agreed deal in the coming days.
While not directly involved in the negotiations, the White House has been closely monitoring the deliberations on Capitol Hill. The administration’s strategy has focused on messaging and casting blame on Republicans if a shutdown occurs. President Biden recorded a video in which he blamed a “small group of extreme House Republicans” for being “determined to shut down the government.” The White House believes that Republicans will bear the brunt of the blame if a shutdown were to happen, positioning themselves as not willing to stand up to extremists in their party.