January 20, 2018
With Congress gridlocked on an agreement to adopt a Continuing Resolution (CR) to fund the federal government into February, the following are some real world consequences that could impact AHC members. In the unlikely event that the government faces an extended suspension of “non-critical” operations, AHC will inform you about other specific consequences arising from the funding impasse.
- National Park Service – With the temporary suspension of federal government operations, the Department of Interior may close the National Park Service (NPS). During the last government shutdown in 2013, the NPS marked as closed, or gated, all roads accessing national parks. The NPS also closed all visitor and information center. Similar measures during the current shutdown would hinder hikers and horseback riders from gaining access to nearly 60,000 miles of trails under NPS jurisdiction. AHC recommends that members research the status of specific parks prior to planning a visit.
- National Forest Service, Possible Flexibility – According to a 2017 “shut down” contingency plan from the Department of Agriculture (USDA), any activity already certified by a permit could move forward in the event of a shutdown, so long as NFS personnel aren’t necessary to guarantee the safety of the participants, per the terms of the permit. However, NFS has the discretion to apply these contingencies on a “case-by-case” basis. AHC recommends that members research the status of specific NFS trail closures beforehand.
- Animal Plant and Health Inspection Service (APHIS) – According to a USDA memorandum, the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has identified at least some APHIS functions as exempt from a shutdown, based on their role in protecting public health. This includes APHIS’ Safety and Security Unit (SSU), which oversees health, safety, and security issues for employees of the National Centers for Animal Health (NCAH).
- Critical Services – As a general rule, federal employees involved in “critical services” will not be subject to a furlough. This group includes air traffic controllers, military personnel, and hazardous waste handlers, among others. Other exempted services include USDA’s inspection and quarantine of animals prior to import or export (see above).
- U.S. Mail – Finally, U.S. postal workers are not exempt from a federal funding furlough and will continue to deliver the mail.
Federal officials don’t anticipate an extended shut down of government operations. For details related to the budget impasse and its near-term consequences, please contact Bryan Brendle, Director of Legislative Affairs, at firstname.lastname@example.org.