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Federal workers begin going home as funding bill stalls

With a giant funding bill still unpassed, the Reagan administration began ordering federal workers to go home Thursday afternoon. Meanwhile, the Senate continued work on the year-end catchall bill, which funds about 80 percent of the government.

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As of Thursday afternoon the Senate appeared to have resolved its problems with the bill. A joint House-Senate conference committee will have to iron out differences on the funding measure. But even if the spending bill is completed, the Senate must still pass a mandatory debt limit increase so the federal government may continue to borrow money. Senators have reportedly prepared 40 unrelated amendments to that bill.

A shutdown of the government would be the second in the Reagan administration and would almost certainly become a campaign issue. Closing down the government for a day costs about $80 million for work left undone, according to a report by the Democratic-controlled House.

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