With the 2013 budget showdown that closed the U.S. federal government still in mind, federal agencies and departments put out contingency plans Saturday should budget negotiations in Congress fail and funding for government services and employees freeze, according to the Washington Post. A shutdown seems unlikely after the announced resignation of House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio; however, a final budget deal -- either short-term or long-term -- has not been agreed to in the nation's capital.
Two years ago, the federal government was shut down over a disagreement between Democrats and Republicans on whether or not to fund the Affordable Care Act, President Barack Obama's signature health care legislation, which extended health insurance benefits to millions. This year's shutdown focus is on funding for Planned Parenthood, a relatively small portion of the federal budget.
"We’re hearing there will be a resolution," a Defense Department official, who asked to remain anonymous, told the Post. "But we can’t count on that. We have to prepare for all three contingencies: a new budget, a temporary budget without new money or a shutdown."
Agencies are determining which workers are absolutely essential and what services to keep operating. Most of the plans are based upon operating procedures from the 16-day partial shutdown two years ago. National parks would close, but places like veterans hospitals would stay open.
Boehner announced his plans in an emotional press conference Friday. His decision came days before the potential shutdown and as Congress was wrestling with funding plans, as well as amid heightened tension among Republicans in Congress as a far-right constituency continues to push back against the more moderate factions that Boehner represents.
Republicans in Congress have threatened a government shutdown over Planned Parenthood after a video was released showing an employee of the organization discussing selling fetal organs after abortions. Planned Parenthood has disputed the legitimacy of the video, saying that it was edited in a way that distorts the facts.