The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (CRFB) asked about the possibility of a government shutdown on Tuesday, and the results showed that it had gone up from 70% to 87% in just six days.
What gives? As of Thursday, none of the 12 funding bills that decide how much money can be spent on things other than necessities had been passed by Congress. Legislators have until Saturday at midnight to pass spending bills to pay for government services. If they don’t, the government will shut down on Sunday, the first day of the new fiscal year.
The nonpartisan, nonprofit CRFB noted that a full shutdown would be more extensive than the partial shutdown that began in December 2018, during which Congress had enacted five of the 12 appropriations bills. If the government shut down completely, as it did in 2013 and early 2018, about 850,000 of the 2.1 million non-postal federal workers would be sent home without pay.
What effects would a total shutdown have on the companies and areas that are in charge of moving goods? Since moving goods is a key part of the U.S. economy, a shutdown shouldn’t have a big effect on the supply chain if it’s over quickly.
Still, people are worried. Here are the main plans of 10 freight-related federal government offices in case of a government shutdown.
Federal Maritime Commission
Percent furloughed: 94%
The Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) is in charge of making sure that the international maritime transportation supply chain is reliable and competitive. This helps the U.S. economy and protects the public from unfair activities. The FMC also has the sole authority over competition in container shipping in the U.S.
During a shutdown, however, most of the agency would be stopped, which would stop all mission-related operations. Venable says that this means that people who work in the container trades won’t be able to submit new filings or applications for things like ocean transportation intermediary licenses, service contracts, tariff registrations, vessel-operating common carrier and marine terminal operator agreements, or agreement reports.
The firm has stated that formal and informal adjudicatory and investigatory proceedings pending before the FMC or the administrative law judges are also expected to be temporarily suspended until the government reopens.
Federal Railroad Administration
Percent furloughed: 35%
According to the agency, the FRA, which is responsible for overseeing railroad safety, will only pursue rulemakings that are related to the award, administration, oversight, and technical assistance of FRA’s financial assistance programs and funded from FRA’s Oversight account.
Because of the train accident in East Palestine, Ohio, in February, a union for rail workers is worried that safety rules may be put on hold for now.
U.S. Coast Guard
Percent furloughed: 13%
The United States Coast Guard (USCG) is in charge of many things, like making sure that ports and port facilities are safe and secure and regulating and overseeing safety and security activities there. The USCG is also in charge of making sure that all business ships entering U.S. ports meet safety and inspection standards.
If the power went out, it wouldn’t change these steps in any visible way. Since it is part of the Department of Homeland Security and not the Department of Defense, the US Coast Guard (USCG) is the only military branch whose troops would not get paid during a shutdown.
Surface Transportation Board
Percent furloughed: 99%
The STB regulates and keeps an eye on the competition between freight railroads in the U.S. If the government shut down, most lawsuits, regulatory reports, and case handling would stop. The STB has just started taking comments on a major rule change that would make train lines more competitive and easier for shippers to use. Hearings, talks for voting, collecting and reviewing data, and sending in taxes have all been put on hold.
U.S. Maritime Administration
Percent furloughed: 24%
During a shutdown, MarAd, which controls U.S. domestic marine markets, would still try to stop serious threats to the safety of people and U.S. government boats.
The Office of Cargo and Commercial Sealift under MarAd would be shut down, except for a small number of workers whose job it is to track requests for Jones Act waivers and, if needed, help with crisis management and find domestic shipping options that could be used in an emergency. The process of getting approval to move ships out of the United States registry will also be put on hold.
Customs and Border Protection
Percent furloughed: 8%
During a shutdown, 92% of CBP’s employees will still be paid, so ship checks at U.S. ports would go on as usual.
Venable thinks that things like making policies, regulating, passing laws, reviewing, and training will be put on hold, but that freight handling and security checks will go on as normal.
The law firm also advises that importers should be aware of the potential operational impacts of a government shutdown on CBP partner agencies, such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and U.S. Department of Agriculture. This could lead to delays in the clearance of shipments that require review.
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