Partial Federal Government Shutdown Impacts USDA, EPA, DHS, and DOT

Government Shutdown ( MGN )

Congressional Democrats and President Trump continue their standoff over additional federal funding for border security, including the ability to build additional border barriers, as the partial government shutdown continues into its third full week. With no end in sight, the partial shutdown is on track to become the longest on record, surpassing the November 1995 - January 1996, shutdown that lasted a total of 27 days. The primary conflict for that shutdown was a dispute between former President Bill Clinton and a GOP controlled Congress over balancing the federal budget and reforms to limit the rate of growth for Medicare.

Twenty-five percent of federal government funding is impacted by the shutdown, including functions of USDA, EPA, DHS, DOT, and the State Department. During the shutdown most functions at EPA are suspended, including the Office of Pesticide Programs (OPP) and the publication of the new proposed WOTUS rule in the Federal Register has been delayed, which will postpone the deadline for comments to be submitted. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Office of Infrastructure Protection is also impacted, including the suspension and lapse in reauthorization of the Chemical Facilities Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) program. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has indicated the following activities will continue:

  • Meat, poultry, and processed egg inspection services;
  • Grain and other commodity inspection, weighing, grading, and IT support services funded by user fees;
  • Inspections for import and export activities to prevent the introduction and dissemination of pests into and out of the U.S., including inspections from Hawaii and Puerto Rico to the mainland;
  • Continuity and maintenance of some research measurements and research-related infrastructure, such as germplasm, seed storage, and greenhouses;
  • Most other domestic nutrition assistance programs, such as the Commodity Supplemental Food Program, WIC, and the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations, can continue to operate at the State and local level with any funding and commodity resources that remain available. Additional Federal funds will not be provided during the period of the lapse, however deliveries of already-purchased commodities will continue;
  • The Child Nutrition (CN) Programs, including School Lunch, School Breakfast, Child and Adult Care Feeding, Summer Food Service and Special Milk will continue operations into February. Meal providers are paid on a reimbursement basis 30 days after the end of the service month;
  • Natural Resources Conservation Service offices will remain open to support conservation technical and financial assistance (such as Environmental Quality Incentives Program and easement programs);
  • Market Facilitation Program payments for producers that have already certified production with the Farm Service Agency;
  • Trade mitigation purchases made by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service;
  • Agricultural export credit and other agricultural trade development and monitoring activities; and
  • USDA’s Market News Service, which provides market information to the agricultural industry.

All other USDA activities will not continue, including the closure of Farm Service Agency county offices.

Two U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) agencies minimally impacted by the continued shutdown include the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), which oversee truck and highway operations. Both of these agencies are funded by other mechanisms outside of the annual appropriations process, such as the Highway Trust Fund. The bulk of the DOT furloughed employees comes from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). It was also recently reported that tax refunds would still be issued despite the IRS also being impacted by the shutdown.

Tonight President Trump and Congressional Democrats will take their case to the public related to border security and the shutdown fight during a prime time address beginning at 9 p.m. Eastern. American voters should not be too surprised by the situation following the November 2016 elections, which brought a divided Congress and government. Buckle up, as this could be a long and bumpy ride.

To view individual department information on shutdown procedures, click the following links:

Please contact the ARA policy team if you have questions about the impact of the shutdown.