The deadline for a government shutdown is hours away and while progress has reportedly been made, it is far from certain that an agreement can be reached in time to avert the first shutdown in 15 years. The current stopgap funding expires Friday, April 8th at midnight. If a shutdown were to occur, some areas of the government would have to suspend their activities until a funding bill was agreed upon, which would affect about 800,000 workers. Federal employees performing jobs deemed as "essential", such as defense, health care, national security, or emergency-related would be exempt from the shut down.
On Tuesday, President Obama met with congressional leaders at the White House in hopes of negotiating a deal, but no deal was reached. Late Wednesday night, President Obama again called House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) back to the White House for another meeting to discuss budget negotiations. All parties involved left the meeting with a similar message; progress had been made, which made them a bit more optimistic, but there was still no agreement on a budget.
Earlier, House Republican leaders introduced a week long funding extension. Their bill cut $12 billion in spending and funded the Department of Defense for the remainder of the fiscal year. The House is scheduled to vote on the one-week extension today. President Obama was quick to reject the idea of another stopgap bill saying, "we've already done that twice." House Republicans are blaming the Administration for increasing the chances of a shutdown by rejecting this one-week extension. Democrats are accusing Republicans of continually changing their budget cut requests in order to meet the strict demands of tea party members. Senator Reid said, "Every time we agree to meet in the middle, they (Republicans) move where the middle is. The Republican leadership has the tea party screaming so loudly in its right ear that it can't hear what the vast majority of the country demands. The country demands we get this done." Although both sides in public remain hopeful, agency heads have begun preparation for a shutdown.