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White House beginning to tell government agencies to prepare for a shutdown

Democrats also say they have a deal to pay for a multitrillion-dollar social safety net package.
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WASHINGTON — The White House has started to tell government agencies to prepare for a potential government shutdown if a stopgap bill is not signed into law by Sept. 30.

"We are taking every step we can to mitigate the impacts of a potential shutdown," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said during a briefing Thursday.

There is no formal guidance yet, but it's "just a reminder we're seven days out and we need to be prepared, of course, in any event of any contingency, so we see this as a routine step and one just to be prepared in any event of what could happen," she said.

Congress is in a mad dash to beat multiple deadlines for a number of legislative priorities, such as the passage of the stopgap funding bill to avert the shutdown of government agencies. It is also looking at disaster aid for storms and wildfires, and extra money to assist Afghan evacuees. It is trying to extend the debt limit to avert default ahead of an expected October deadline.

And Democrats are looking to pass the infrastructure bill while completing a sweeping multitrillion-dollar package of social spending and tax priorities, all on a compressed timeline.

Earlier Thursday, congressional Democrats and the White House reached a deal on a framework for the revenue portion of their multitrillion-dollar social safety net bill, a major step to getting a final agreement across the finish line.

"The White House, the House and the Senate have reached agreement on a framework that will pay for any final negotiated agreement," Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said at a press conference Thursday.

"So the revenue side of this we have agreement," he said.

The announcement comes just a day after President Joe Biden hosted multiple in-person meetings at the White House with groups representing different wings of the Democratic caucus from both the House and the Senate, to build consensus around his infrastructure and social spending packages.

"We have a consensus overwhelmingly, maybe 10 to 1, 20 to 1 within our caucus as to these priorities, but we wanted to make sure it was paid for,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said during her weekly press conference Wednesday where she was joined by Schumer.

Psaki said the framework agreement was "a sign of progress" and the next step will be more discussions with lawmakers on the path forward.

"But there's no question there's a lot of work ahead that will proceed over the rest of the day, in the days ahead," she said.

Progressive lawmakers have said they won’t back the Senate-passed infrastructure bill, a top priority for the Democratic leadership, unless the larger $3.5 trillion reconciliation package passes first.

The leader of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., has promised that dozens of Democrats will defect and vote the infrastructure bill down if the larger spending bill hasn't passed the Senate first.

House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy said he's going to vote against the reconciliation bill and will encourage his members to do the same.

"I don't view it as a bipartisan bill any longer," he said. “I’m voting no."

When pressed on how he'd explain that to constituents who want infrastructure improvements, McCarthy said "You don't get millions of dollars for roads and broadband. What you get is $5 trillion of more inflation” and “a bigger socialist big government."

While Pelosi told reporters Wednesday that the reconciliation bill was still on schedule after promising centrist lawmakers that it will come up for a vote in the House by Monday, on Thursday she wouldn't commit to that timeline.

"I'm not saying that, I'm saying we will bring our legislation forward as it's ready," said Pelosi, who adds the bill is in a "very good place."

"I've always been very calm about this because it's like, it happens all the same way, all this bluster, but at the end of the day we will be unified for the American people," she said.