Paying for government, 2012
Speaker of the House Rep. John Boehner (Center) walks back to his office after a vote on the omnibus spending bill December 16, 2011. The House has passed the $1 trillion bill, by 296-121, that will keep the federal government funded through September, 2012.
December 19th, 2011
06:32 PM ET

Paying for government, 2012

The President still hasn’t signed the 2012 Consolidated Appropriations Act, which will fund the government through next year.  According to White House officials it’s because the bill itself has not yet arrived at the White House. And why is that?  Because it’s a big bill and takes a long time to print. Yet until that bill is signed the government is funded only by a continuing resolution that runs through December 23, 2011.

So the question arises, can or will the President use the unsigned bill as leverage to keep Congress in town to resolve the payroll tax cut dispute?  According to the White House, the answer is no.

"The President is focused on getting the business of the American people done, and once we receive the Omnibus funding bill, he will sign it,” says Kenneth Baer, Communications Director for the Office of Management and Budget.  “House Republicans should focus on the urgent task in front of them, put aside whatever political concerns they have, and pass the compromise payroll/UI bill that passed the Senate by overwhelming, bipartisan margins."

Government shutdown fears prompt cancellation of first family's vacation
April 8th, 2011
06:34 PM ET

Government shutdown fears prompt cancellation of first family's vacation

(WASHINGTON) CNN–As last minute negotiations continue to avert a government shutdown set for midnight Friday, the first family has cancelled a planned weekend getaway to Williamsburg, VA. The White House announced late Friday afternoon that “The President will remain in Washington, DC this weekend as he continues to work with Congressional leaders to reach an agreement on the budget. The First Family’s trip to Williamsburg has been postponed.”  Williamsburg is 150 miles south of Washington, DC and was the 17th century capital of the colony of Virginia.  In 2005, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip visited the area to commemorate the founding of nearby Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement in America.

April 8th, 2011
05:05 PM ET

White House source on averting government shutdown: "more optimistic"

(WASHINGTON) CNN–A source at the White House tells CNN: “We are more optimistic now than we were 4 hours ago.”

The same source also says there’s a “good chance” that we’ll hear from the president today.

Government shutdown hits close to home for White House
In the White House itself, only about 120 people will report to work if the government shuts down Friday night.
April 8th, 2011
01:23 PM ET

Government shutdown hits close to home for White House

WASHINGTON (CNN)–As the clock continues to tick down to a government shutdown Friday night, the White House is moving forward with plans to make-do with a skeleton staff.  Normally 1,781 people work in the Executive Office of the President, which staffs the White House offices, the residence, the vice president's office and residence and other critical departments like the National Security staff, the Council on Economic Advisors and the office of the National Drug Czar.  If the government shuts down Friday at midnight, only about a quarter of those staffers will remain because their positions will be deemed "excepted" or "exempted" which is bureaucracy speak for people essential to allow the executive offices to continue to run. But it's a bare bones staff. 

In the White House itself, only about 120 people will report to work after Friday night’s deadline.  That's fewer that one quarter of the regular staff.  The people who will be reporting to work are higher level officials including special assistants to the president, commissioned officers and those whose positions required Senate confirmation.  According to the contingency plan for the Executive Office of the President, this staff  “will support the President in the discharge of his constitutional duties including staff required to work with Congress in the enactment of appropriations."    FULL POST

Shutdown looms
Another late night at the White House Thursday as President Obama spoke in the briefing room after talks between congressional leaders seemingly stalled. The president said, ""Because the machinery of the shutdown is necessarily starting to move, I expect an answer in the morning, and my hope is that I'll be able to announce to the American people sometime relative early in the day that a shutdown has been averted."
April 8th, 2011
10:54 AM ET

Shutdown looms

Washington (CNN) - Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, said Friday morning that the abortion issue is the lone remaining stumbling block for negotiators trying to reach a budget agreement that would prevent a government shutdown.

"This all deals with women's health. Everything (else) has been resolved. Everything," Reid said. "It's an ideological battle. It has nothing to do with fiscal integrity in this country."

Republicans have been pushing to strip federal funding from Planned Parenthood during the budget talks. They are also trying to get federal dollars now set aside for family planning and women's health turned into block grants for states, according to a Democratic source.

Such a move - opposed by Democrats, according to the source - would give governors and state legislatures more ability to cut funding for services opposed by conservatives.

A spokesman for Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, immediately disputed Reid's assertion that abortion is the key sticking point.

"While nothing will be decided until everything is decided, the largest issue is still spending cuts," Michael Steel said. "The American people want to cut spending to help the private sector create jobs - and the Democrats that run Washington don't."  (follow live blogging on the latest developments)

Shutdown could hit close to home for Obama
April 6th, 2011
11:09 PM ET

Shutdown could hit close to home for Obama

WASHINGTON (CNN)—Leaders of Congress are busy meeting with President Obama at the White House on Wednesday night over the budget deal. But if they are unsuccessful, the impact could hit close to home for the president.

The Executive Office of the President encompasses almost 50 different departments at the White House, ranging from the Executive Residence to the social secretary’s office to the White House press secretary to the White House Counsel. In addition, there are other departments such as the United States Secret Service and the landscapers which fall under other departments.

But who would be deemed essential to keep the White House running? While senior administration officials expect that there will “be significant lower staffing levels at the White House”, no one is quite sure who will be affected. FULL POST