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Snowstorm Shuts U.S. Government, Cuts Action in Congress

March 6 (Bloomberg) -- A snowstorm barreling in from the U.S. Midwest closed federal government offices in Washington today and shortened schedules in Congress.

The National Weather Service forecast as much as eight inches of snow for the Washington metropolitan area, with heavier snowfall of a foot or more west of the city. Light snow was falling in the early morning hours, and it was expected to become steadier throughout the day.

The Office of Personnel Management said federal departments and agencies are closed for non-emergency workers.

At the White House, President Barack Obama had a light public schedule that included a routine daily intelligence briefing, lunch with Vice President Joe Biden and a meeting with the new Treasury secretary, Jacob Lew. Because of the weather, spokesman Jay Carney canceled his daily press briefing.

The U.S. House planned to meet at 10 a.m., earlier than originally planned. Lawmakers are scheduled to vote at about 1 p.m. on a catch-all spending bill to fund the government through Sept. 30. A number of Senate and House hearings were postponed.

As of 8 a.m. Washington time, the late-winter storm had caused about two inches of snowfall in southwestern suburbs of Washington. City streets were mostly wet with little accumulation; the storm was to gather intensity by mid-morning.

Most schools were closed.

To contact the reporters on this story: Roger Runningen in Washington at rrunningen@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Steve Komarow at skomarow1@bloomberg.net

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