Talk of a federal government shutdown is simmering down this weekend after House and Senate leaders appear willing to approve a two-week, stopgap spending measure and punt the bigger debate over spending cuts until mid-March.
The nation's governors are convening in Washington for three days of meetings and closely monitoring the machinations of Congress. Their state economies are teetering on the brink of an economic recovery and reeling from long-term unemployment and chasms between tax revenue and obligations for state services.
"This is a critical time," said Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire (D), head of the National Governors Association. "Anything that Congress does that undermines a recovery would be quite troubling for us."
At a news conference, a group of governors was asked to weigh-in on how a possible government shutdown could hit their states. At first, none of the governors volunteered an answer. That prompted someone to say that a government closure might not have any effect. But Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe (D) then jumped to the lectern to quickly correct that notion.
"It will impact every state," said Beebe. "Most states do not have the revenue to offset the loss of federal funds."
The problem, say most governors, is that their state economies are starting to improve. Any alteration to the current path could disrupt progress they've made rallying from a near-economic meltdown.
"We're fragile," said Gregoire. "We don't need a hiccup right now.'
Both the House and Senate plan to debate the temporary spending bill to keep the government open past March 4 next week. If both bodies of Congress okay that bill and President Obama signs it into law, it only runs until March 18. Which could trigger a retread of the shutdown talk again.