White House, government agencies discuss possible shutdown

September 23, 2016 12:36 PM EDT

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By Roberta Rampton

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House budget office scheduled a call with U.S government agencies on Friday to plan for a government shutdown in case the U.S. Congress fails to pass a short-term funding bill by a deadline next week.

"It is our hope that this work will ultimately be unnecessary and that there will be no lapse in appropriations," a spokeswoman for the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) said in a statement.

The federal fiscal year ends on Sept. 30 and Congress must pass a spending measure by then to keep the government open.

In recent years, lawmakers have seldom agreed on a full federal budget and instead have relied on stop-gap measures.

On Thursday, Republicans produced a bill which Democrats immediately rejected. The Senate is expected to hold an initial procedural vote on the legislation on Tuesday, according to a senior Republican aide.

The White House was pleased that bill includes funding to fight the Zika virus, but has concerns about other provisions, spokesman Josh Earnest said, noting that it was "too soon to panic" about the bill.

"I think it is unclear at best right now whether or not this particular piece of legislation will pass both houses of Congress and make its way to the president's desk. Even if it were, it's also unclear at best right now if the president would sign it," Earnest told reporters.

The OMB said there was enough time for Congress to pass a short-term funding bill, but "prudent management requires that the government plan for the possibility of a lapse."

Republicans and Democrats annually fight about spending bills but normally reach a deal to avert a shutdown, particularly during election years. In 2013, the two sides failed to agree, and the government stopped operations for 16 days.

(Additional reporting by Ayesha Rascoe and David Morgan; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Sandra Maler)



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