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Legislators race to avoid possible government shutdown

The U.S. government could shut down in less than five days.

WASHINGTON, D.C., USA — A slew of deadlines are converging in the U.S. Capitol this week, all of them hanging in the balance as the possibility of a government shutdown draws near.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki is telling federal agencies to get ready for a possible shutdown.

“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. 

The last time a shutdown like this occurred, the federal government was closed for 35 days and it cost the U.S. approximately $11 billion, with hundreds of thousands of employees furloughed or working without pay.

A shutdown during the pandemic would also mean fewer airport security screenings and interruptions to public health services which are vital to stopping the spread of COVID-19.

Meanwhile, House Democrats passed a stopgap spending bill which would fund the government through Dec. 3, but that measure means getting 10 Senate Republicans on board by Sept. 30. Without their support, federal agencies will run out of money, and the government will have to shut down temporarily and once again furlough employees.

However, experts say Republicans will most likely block the spending bill because of the Democrats' inclusion of a hike in the nation's debt ceiling.

House of Representatives Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy is standing firm on his decision saying: "I'm not going to increase a debt limit to spend another five trillion dollars in the next month."

According to Reuters, several federal officials have been urging Republicans to support the increase and, "Democrats noted that they supported increases for Republican priorities during past Republican administrations."

The Bipartisan Policy Center is estimating that the Treasury Department will "exhaust its borrowing capability sometime between Oct. 15 and mid-November." 

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