Happy Holidays from Washington! Funding Fight May Initiate Partial Government Shut-Down, “Critical Services” Exempt

With Congress gridlocked on passing a Continuing Resolution (CR) to fund the federal government into January, the following are some real world consequences that could impact AHC members from a possible Government Shutdown;

  • National Park Closures – With the temporary suspension of federal government operations, the Department of Interior could shut down the National Park Service (NPS).  During a partial shutdown in 2013, the NPS marked as closed, or gated, all roads accessing national parks.  The NPS also closed all visitor and information centers.  Similar measures during a possible winter 2018 shutdown would hinder hikers and horseback riders from gaining access to nearly 60,000 miles of trails under NPS jurisdiction.
  • 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 and NPS trail closures before loading their trailers.
  • Animal Plant and Health Inspection Service (APHIS) – According to a USDA memorandum, the White House 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.
  • 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.
  • U.S. Mail – Finally, U.S. postal workers are not exempt from a federal funding furlough and will continue to deliver the mail in the event of a Shutdown.

AHC will keep you informed of major developments impacting the horse industry, in the event of an extended, partial government shutdown.