"You can feel the tension. It's what everyone's talking about. It's the giant elephant in the room," the staffer said. "Everyone's trying to keep their cool and get as much done this week before it happens."
A congressional staffer from Colorado said the biggest stress right now is whether employees will be paid during a shutdown. Members of Congress will continue to receive their paychecks During the 1995 shutdown, no one was paid until Congress passed a budget including a provision to provide back pay to all furloughed employees. There is no guarantee that will happen this year.
By law members of Congress will continue to get paid during a shutdown, but many are calling for lawmakers' paychecks to be suspended if they cannot reach a budget deal by Friday.
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., circulated a letter in the Senate pledging to "forego my federal salary until we reach an agreement."
"I will donate my salary to charity or return it to the Treasury until the government works again," Manchin wrote.
Michele Bachmann, R- Minn., said she will also donate her pay.
"Unfortunately, current law prevents our military men and women from receiving their paycheck on time if government services are interrupted. Because of this discrepancy between the pay of our troops and Members of Congress, I will personally be donating my pay to a non-profit organization serving our military families," she said, in a statement Thursday.
Both the House and the Senate have passed legislation to suspend lawmakers pay during a shutdown, but in bills that have not passed the other chamber.