White House pro­vides con­tin­gency plans for fed­eral shut­down.

White House has con­tin­gency plans in place should govern­ment shut­down

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY S.A. MILLER Tom How­ell Jr. con­trib­uted to this re­port.

White House of­fi­cials say they will pro­vide guid­ance to fed­eral agen­cies Fri­day on con­tin­gency plans for a po­ten­tial govern­ment shut­down, a week be­fore the April 28 dead­line for Congress to pass a spend­ing bill and keep the lights on.

Pres­i­dent Trump’s Of­fice of Man­age­ment and Bud­get is stick­ing to the pro­to­cols laid out by the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion in a 916-page bud­get cir­cu­lar from July 2016, which spells out the steps to take in prepa­ra­tion for shut­ter­ing the govern­ment.

It re­mained un­cer­tain Wed­nes­day whether they’ll take a dif­fer­ent tack than Pres­i­dent Obama, who was ac­cused in the 2013 fed­eral shut­down of mak­ing it as painful as pos­si­ble on ci­ti­zens to gain lever­age in a bud­get bat­tle with Republ­cians over Oba­macare.

Shut­down moves by the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion in 2013 that pro­voked com­plaints in­cluded erect­ing bar­ri­cades to keep peo­ple out of the out­door World War II Me­mo­rial and Viet­nam War Me­mo­rial in Wash­ing­ton.

“One week prior to the ex­pi­ra­tion of ap­pro­pri­a­tions bills, re­gard­less of whether the en­act­ment of ap­pro­pri­a­tions ap­pears im­mi­nent, OMB will con­vene a meet­ing or tele­con­fer­ence with agency se­nior of­fi­cials to re­mind agen­cies of their re­spon­si­bil­i­ties to re­view and up­date or­derly shut­down plans,” reads the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion doc­u­ment be­ing used by the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Sev­eral de­part­ments and agen­cies con­tacted by The Wash­ing­ton Times, in­clud­ing State, In­te­rior, Com­merce and the EPA, de­clined to re­veal plans or whether they would dif­fer from those of the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Bud­get ne­go­tia­tors have re­peat­edly voiced op­ti­mism that they can reach a deal, but sev­eral hot-but­ton is­sues re­main un­re­solved and many of Mr. Trump’s pri­or­i­ties are on the chop­ping block.

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, Wis­con­sin Repub­li­can, has said the fund­ing likely will be left out for a wall on the U.S. bor­der with Mex­ico, one of Mr. Trump’s top cam­paign prom­ises.

Fund­ing for the wall and other of Mr. Trump’s pri­or­i­ties, how­ever, could be achieved in the bud­get for the next fis­cal year that be­gins Oct. 1.

Still, the stand­off puts in jeop­ardy sev­eral other of Mr. Trump’s cam­paign prom­ises in the fund­ing pack­age that will cover the re­main­ing six months of the cur­rent fis­cal year that ends Sept. 30. His push to slash do­mes­tic spend­ing and boost mil­i­tary spend­ing, and his prom­ise to de­fund Planned Par­ent­hood, to rein in the Con­sumer Fi­nan­cial Pro­tec­tion Bureau and to pun­ish sanc­tu­ary ci­ties are all on the bar­gain­ing table.

The ne­go­ti­a­tions be­tween House and Se­nate ap­pro­pri­a­tors have been on­go­ing dur­ing Congress’ spring break. But the dead­line hits just four days af­ter law­mak­ers re­turn Tues­day to the Capi­tol.

A ma­jor stick­ing point is crit­i­cal Oba­macare “cost shar­ing” pay­ments to in­sur­ers. Mr. Trump has threat­ened to end the pay­ments, which would put the health care law into a death spi­ral, un­less Democrats agree to ne­go­ti­ate ma­jor re­forms to Oba­macare.

The cost-shar­ing pay­ments, which to­taled about $7 bil­lion last year, are crit­i­cal to the sur­vival of Oba­macare. With­out the pay­ments, plans would likely drop out or raise their pre­mi­ums across the board.

A fed­eral court in­val­i­dated the pay­ments, say­ing the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion spent the money even though Congress specif­i­cally stripped the funds from its an­nual spend­ing bills. The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion nev­er­the­less con­tin­ued to dis­trib­ute the funds while the case is ap­pealed.

If Congress puts the money into the new spend­ing bill, it likely would spell vic­tory for the ap­peal by Oba­macare sup­port­ers, re­mov­ing the un­der­pin­ning of the orig­i­nal rul­ing.

Se­nate Mi­nor­ity Leader Charles E. Schumer sounded op­ti­mistic this week that he’ll be able to get the money in­cluded.

“We’re work­ing hard to get it in the bill and we’re very hope­ful. Ne­go­ti­a­tions seem to be go­ing quite well,” the New York Demo­crat told re­porters. “And I’m very hope­ful that we can come to an agree­ment that every­one can be proud of. I’m not go­ing to get into de­tails, but we’re work­ing hard to get that pro­vi­sion in.”

Mr. Trump isn’t show­ing signs of back­ing down.

Amer­ica’s Health In­sur­ance Plans, the lobby rep­re­sent­ing health in­sur­ance com­pa­nies, and rep­re­sen­ta­tives from ma­jor in­sur­ance com­pa­nies had a sit­down Wed­nes­day with Seema Verma, the ad­min­is­tra­tor of the Cen­ters for Medi­care and Med­i­caid Ser­vices, to press that their top con­cern was cost shar­ing pay­ments.

Com­ing out of the meet­ing, how­ever, ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials re­fused to tip their hand ei­ther way or give the in­sur­ance ex­ec­u­tives and lob­by­ists the as­sur­ances they wanted.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

House Speaker Paul Ryan (left) and Of­fice of Man­age­ment and Bud­get direc­tor Mick Mul­vaney have un­til April 28 to reach a deal on a spend­ing bill. Ne­go­tia­tors say they can reach agree­ment, but many of Pres­i­dent Trump’s top pri­or­i­ties are on the chop­ping block.

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