The White House on Tuesday directed federal agencies to begin preparing for a possible shutdown, ahead of a looming budget deadline.

"The Administration does not want a lapse in appropriations to occur. There is enough time for Congress to prevent a lapse in appropriations, and the Administration is willing to work with Congress to enact a short-term continuing resolution to fund critical Government operations and allow Congress the time to complete the full year 2014 appropriations," wrote Office of Management and Budget Director Sylvia Burwell in a memo. "However, prudent management requires that agencies be prepared for the possibility of a lapse."

The White House and lawmakers need to reach a deal on a continuing resolution before the end of September to avert a government shutdown.

Republican lawmakers hope to use the spending bill to defund the president's signature health care reform law.

Obama has hammered Republicans to quickly pass a continuing resolution and warned that a shutdown could jeopardize the nation's economic recovery.

The president said the GOP was "willing to tank" the economy to score political points in a speech Monday.