January 28, 2019

U.S. Federal Government Shutdown Ends—But Will It Last?

The White House and Congressional lawmakers agreed last Friday to a deal that ended the longest partial government shutdown in U.S. history. The House and Senate passed the bill the same day the deal was announced, and President Donald Trump signed the legislation that evening.

The legislation provides funding for agencies for the next three weeks, but does not include any funding for the border wall that the president had wanted. The president and lawmakers promised to negotiate an immigration and border security deal over that time and to bring legislation to the floor for a vote if an agreement is reached.

What will happen if Republicans and Democrats cannot agree? President Trump said, “If we don’t get a fair deal from Congress, the government will either shut down on Feb. 15, or I will use the powers afforded to me under the laws and Constitution of the United States to address this emergency.” In those remarks, however, the president also seemed to soften his demands for a border wall, saying “we do not need 2,000 miles of concrete wall from sea to shining sea” and that enhanced technology might suffice in some places.

If there is another shutdown in mid-February it would again affect about 25 percent of government workers, including employees at the:

  • Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Justice, State, Transportation, and Treasury;
  • Environmental Protection Agency;
  • Federal Communications Commission;
  • Food and Drug Administration;
  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration;
  • The Securities and Exchange Commission; and
  • Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.

The recent shutdown brought Section 232 steel and aluminum exclusion requests to a halt, and that would happen again.

Most employees of the Department of Homeland Security and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) would again be considered “essential” and would continue doing their jobs. The CBP, however, would not be fulfilling the following functions: issuing trade customs broker licenses, permits, and filing codes; reviewing and responding to Enforce and Protect Act allegations and electronic allegations of trade fraud; responding to all trade data requests, including commercial requests for Importer Trade Activity information; issuing prospective rulings and monitoring import quotas (though quota entries will be accepted).