The US federal government has begun preparing for a possible shutdown, according to the White House.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Wednesday that “it was only prudent to begin such planning,” and lamented that this was “a process that we have unfortunately become all too familiar with.”
Congressional conservatives have for weeks indicated that they are willing to shut down the government over any funding measure that includes money for Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion provider in the United States.
Senate Democrats blocked a vote Tuesday on a bill to ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.
The bill would have changed current law, which allows women to legally obtain abortions through the 27th week of pregnancy, which is the end of the second trimester.
The federal government will shut down on October 1, if Congress fails to pass a spending bill for the fiscal year 2016.
While Republicans have vowed to oppose any spending measure that does not defund Planned Parenthood, their Democratic colleagues would block any bill that targets the organization.
Earnest urged members of Congress to overcome “budgetary brinkmanship on Capitol Hill.”
The fight over defunding Planned Parenthood was provoked this summer by controversy about the use of aborted fetuses in medical research.
John Boehner’s position as speaker of the House of Representatives was put at risk as the conservatives within the Republican Party had threatened to depose Boehner over a failure to defund the organization.
Adding fuel to the fire, Planned Parenthood’s top officials have been caught red handed in an undercover video as they discuss selling “fresh” body parts of aborted babies.
The shocking video footage– released by the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) last week– shows top Planned Parenthood executives openly discussing the sales of specific body parts, including hearts, eyes and “gonads” of aborted babies, claiming it is a “valid exchange.”
In 2013, the federal government was shut down for 16 days after Congress failed to pass a budget because of brinkmanship over President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare law, known as Obamacare.
About 850,000 federal employees were furloughed immediately after funding ran out, according to a White House report.