Government Shutdown, Affected And Unaffected Departments: All You Need To Know
The United States is now in its longest ever government shutdown, but how is that actually affecting departments?
Parts of the U.S. federal government remain closed in what is turning out to be the longest shutdown in government history. The shutdown has affected a wide number of government operations amidst a bitter standoff between President Donald Trump and the Democratically controlled Congress, largely due to an impasse over funding for a border wall.
As a result, a number of federal government workers have had to stay home and go without pay for weeks and some have been forced to work despite not being paid. In addition to the pay standoff, key government institutions remain partially or fully closed. The shutdown has affected over 800,000 Federal workers in one way or another. Some 420,000 workers have had to continue working without pay as some federal departments must remain open even with the partial shutdown in place.
In the most recent development, on Wednesday President Trump signed a bill promising back pay for any workers who have been forced to continue working without pay during the government shutdown.
Government Departments Affected by Shutdown
National museums are no longer opening doors to visitors as they used to. Immigration departments have also had to suspend hearings due to a lack of personnel and funding to oversee such operations. Operations at the Food and Drug Administration have also come to a halt awaiting the reopening of the government.
Additionally, the shutdown, which began on December 22, 2018, has so far affected operations in nine important federal departments as well as other smaller agencies. Some of the departments affected include Agriculture, Commerce, Justice, Homeland Security as well as Treasury and Transportation.
Some of the federal agencies that have slowed down due to the lack of sufficient resources or personnel include the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Drug Enforcement Administration. The State Department, Coast Guard, Internal Revenues Service, as well as Customs and Border Protection, are also no longer running at full capacity. Some workers at NASA, the National Park Service, the Forest Service and Department of Transpiration have had to stay home due to an inability to pay them.
National parks and wildlife refuges remain closed because of a lack of rangers and other park personnel. Even though a notice on the National Park Service indicates that some parks remain accessible, many have shut down completely.
Departments Still Working During Shutdown
However, some federal workers have had to continue working without pay. This is because operations or services deemed necessary must always continue regardless of a government shutdown. For instance, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) continues to issue tax refunds even as it shut down most of its operations. Just recently the IRS announced it was calling back 46,000 workers despite the agency’s inability to pay them. The tax season in the US begins January 28, hence the worker callback.
Screening at airports, while affected by some staff calling in sick must continue despite the shutdown. The Justice Department is another essential government department that is still in operation given that criminal litigation is a necessary service. However, some cases have had to be pushed back because of a lack of sufficient federal workers. Federal Prisons are also in operation.
The protection of marine fisheries is still on, and so are the relevant government agencies issuing weather warnings. However, research operations in these departments have been put on hold given the lack of the necessary finances awaiting congress approval. Food inspection operations are still ongoing, and so are Forest Service officials enforcing the law.
Defense, Education, Veteran Affairs as well as Health and Human services are some of the other government departments that are operating as usual. Congress had already approved the necessary spending bills before the current standoff ensued.
Effects of the Government Shutdown
The partial government shutdown has taken a toll on the economy in many different ways. For instance, household spending has dropped significantly, given the lack of paychecks for the 800,000 federal workers. Most workers have resorted to austerity measures when it comes to spending amidst concern for how long the shutdown will last.
Consumer spending accounts for more than 60 percent of the country’s economic activity. A reduction in paychecks is thus expected to have a negative impact on an economy that many considered on an impressive run. Immediately after the government paid back federal workers after the 2013 shutdown, household spending return to normal levels.
Environmental Protection Agency staff are reportedly planning a ‘national sick day’ disgruntled that they have had to work without pay. Some Federal Workers have sued the government for being forced to continue working without pay.
The effects of the shutdown could get out of hand if the shutdown lasts much longer. The food assistance program, for instance, is at risk of running out of funds given that the current budget allocation runs out in February.
The shutdown is also having a negative impact on the corporate world. For instance, Lyft and Uber, which were planning to go public, have seen their plans significantly affected. The United States Securities and Exchange Commission tasked with the responsibility of approving such fillings is currently on a slowdown.
Companies that derive a good chunk of their businesses from federal departments are also on edge as the shutdown persists. With the shutdown in place, the companies cannot generate any revenue from services or goods rendered to departments currently on shutdown. Some of the most affected companies include cybersecurity firms offering solutions to government departments
The impact of the partial government shutdown is now being felt far and wide. Should the shutdown drag on much longer, then the effects could get out of control triggering ripple effects to far off sectors.
Negotiations for the reopening of the government appear to have hit a standstill, as both President Trump and congressional leaders remain firm in their stances and neither party seems to be moving closer to making any new concessions.