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If the US government cannot lock down a budget deal by midnight tonight, Barack Obama’s administration faces a complete shutdown.
The complete closure of government agencies could continue for as long as Republicans and Democrats remain at loggerheads over public spending.
The White House and Congress were in talks until late last night trying to come up with a plan of action to break the budget deadlock. Republicans and Democrats disagree on planned public spending for the next six months. Republicans wish to spend less but Democrats accuse them of wanting to cease public funding of services such as birth control and environmental protection initiatives.
Following talks last night, Obama said although he was not “wildly optimistic” he believes that talks have progressed further than they did on Wednesday. However, he conceded that there were still “difficult issues” to be resolved.
A joint statement from House Speaker John Boehner, the top Republican in the House of Representatives and Senate Majority Leader and Democrat Harry Reid said, “We have narrowed the issues, however, we have not yet reached an agreement. We will continue to work through the night to attempt to resolve our remaining differences.”
Tonight’s midnight deadline is real – without an agreement, money to operate the government runs out completely at that time. Vital services, including defence, emergency care and air traffic control would continue. Agencies, including the revenue services, would begin a shutdown.