January 11, 2019 / 11:07 AM / 9 months ago

FACTBOX -Impact on U.S. government widens on 21st day of shutdown

    Jan 11 (Reuters) - A shutdown of about a quarter of the U.S.
government reached its 21st day on Friday, tying it with the
longest shutdown to date, and many of the 800,000 employees who
have been furloughed or who are working without pay missed their
first paychecks.
    The White House and congressional Democrats remain divided
over Republican President Donald Trump's demand for money for a
border wall, even as the president warned in Texas on Thursday
that he may use emergency powers to bypass Congress and get
billions of dollars to build it.             
    The shutdown, which began on Dec. 22, is the 19th since the
mid-1970s, although most have been brief. A 1995-1996 shutdown
over a funding battle between Democratic President Bill Clinton
and Republican House of Representatives Speaker Newt Gingrich
also lasted 21 days. The current one has not affected
three-quarters of the government, including the Department of
Defense and the Postal Service, which have secure funding. 
    Some 800,000 employees from the departments of Homeland
Security and Transportation, among others, have been furloughed
or are working without pay. Private contractors working for many
government agencies are also without pay and private companies
that rely on business from federal workers or other consumers -
such as national park visitors - are affected across the
    The following is what is happening around the federal
    Nearly 70,000 IRS employees, or about 88 percent of the
workforce, have been furloughed, raising concerns about American
taxpayer filings and refunds and the ability of the agency to
manage government revenues ahead of the April 15 income tax
filing deadline.              
    The acting director of the White House's Office of
Management and Budget, Russ Vought, has said tax refunds would
be distributed despite the shutdown.
    The department that oversees Customs and Border Protection,
Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Transportation Security
Administration, the Coast Guard and the Secret Service is
    Of 245,000 agency employees, nearly 213,000 have been deemed
"essential," according to the department's contingency plan, so
they are working without pay until a funding bill is passed. 
    More than 50,000 TSA officers are working without pay, but
Democratic lawmakers have expressed concern about some
transportation employees failing to show up for work or calling
in sick. The TSA said on Tuesday the absences were having
"minimal impact."                 
    Most of this department's 7,500 employees are
"non-essential" and only about 340 are working. Nearly 1,000
others may be called in for specific tasks, without pay.
    The shutdown has left administration officials scrambling to
prevent the eviction of thousands of people covered by a HUD
program that expired on Jan. 1 and now cannot be renewed,
according to the Washington Post.     
    Public housing authorities and Native American tribal
housing entities are not part of the federal government and so
are not required to shut down. But the federal government
provides some of their funding, so some have reduced services or
changed operating hours.
    HUD, which oversees some housing loan and low-income housing
payment programs, warned in its contingency plan that "a
protracted shutdown could see a decline in home sales, reversing
the trend toward a strengthening market."
    The National Park Service, under the umbrella of the
Interior Department, is operating with a skeleton staff. Under
its contingency plan, some parks may be accessible, with others
closed completely. The park service is providing no visitor
services such as restrooms, facility and road maintenance and
trash collection. Some volunteers have worked to clean up sites,
according to media reports, and some states and other localities
have also pitched in funding to keep parks operating.
Campgrounds have begun closing because of sanitation issues.
    The parks are losing about $400,000 a day in fees because no
rangers are staffing the entrances, according to Senate
appropriators. The park service has authorized using previously
collected entrance fees to bring in additional staff to clean up
trash and other tasks in a move some critics have said is
illegal, the Washington Post reported. 
    The Smithsonian museums and the National Zoo in Washington,
which receive U.S. government funding, are also closed.
    The Department of Commerce's Bureau of Economic Analysis and
Census Bureau is not publishing economic data, including figures
on gross domestic product, inflation, personal income, spending,
trade and new home sales, during the shutdown.
    The agency that oversees the federal workforce has given
advice to workers on dealing with landlords, mortgage lenders
and other creditors, including sample letters explaining severe
income loss because of the lack of federal funding. Some federal
workers are applying for unemployment benefits, according to
media reports. 
    The U.S. court system said on Monday it could operate until
Jan. 18 and that most proceedings would continue as scheduled.
Cases involving furloughed lawyers from the executive branch of
government may be delayed. After funds are exhausted, courts may
operate as necessary, but it would be up to each court to set
staffing, the system said in a statement. 
    The shutdown over the border wall is also straining the
country's immigration system and has been blamed for worsening
backlogs in courts. Immigration judges are among those
furloughed, leading to thousands of long-delayed deportation
cases being rescheduled.             
    The Food and Drug Administration and other agencies under
the Department of Health and Human Services are partially
affected by the shutdown. Some food and drug inspections are on
hold, but the FDA says it is still able to respond to
emergencies, such as foodborne illness outbreaks. The Indian
Health Service is not able to provide most of its funds to
tribes and Urban Indian Health programs. Some scientific
research projects also cannot continue in full. 
    The Department of Agriculture said on Tuesday that U.S.
farmers could have more time to apply for aid aimed at
mitigating any harm during ongoing trade disputes with China,
among others, adding that farmers who had already applied would
continue to receive payments.             
    USDA has also delayed several key reports on major domestic
and world crops that were due to be released on Friday, Jan. 11.
    Funding for food aid for low-income Americans, known as the
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP, will continue
in February, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said on Tuesday,
but he warned the outlook for March was uncertain if there was
no end to the shutdown.             
    The FCC, which regulates radio and television broadcast and
cable systems, has suspended most operations. Work for "the
protection of life and property" will continue as will
operations at the agency's Office of Inspector General, the
FCC's internal watchdog.  
    Of its 55,000 employees, 20,400 have been put on leave. That
excludes most of the Federal Aviation Administration, where
24,200 are working and the Federal Highway Administration, where
all 2,700 employees are funded through other sources.
    Air traffic control, hazardous material safety inspections
and accident investigations continue, but some rule-making,
inspections and audits have been paused.
    The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
has furloughed nearly 60 percent of its staff, halting auto
safety investigations and new vehicle recall notices. The agency
said it would recall furloughed employees if it "becomes aware
of an imminent threat to the safety of human life."
    Air traffic controllers and other aviation industry workers
protested on the Capitol grounds on Thursday. National Air
Traffic Controllers Association President Paul Rinaldi warned
that the funding impasse would hurt the development of
procedures to accommodate "over 1,000 aircraft wanting to go to
Atlanta" at the beginning of February for the Super Bowl. 
    An estimated 1,100 of the office's 1,800 employees are on
leave. That includes most of the Office of Management and
Budget, which helps implement budget and policy goals.
    Most employees at the National Aeronautics and Space
Administration are on furlough. The small percentage who remain
are working without pay. Work on any satellite mission that has
not yet launched will be suspended until the agency receives
funding, according to its contingency plan.
    The Environmental Protection Agency has furloughed most of
its 14,000 workers, with fewer than 800 deemed "necessary to
protect life and property" reporting to work without pay.
Workers who monitor pollution and clean up superfund sites are
among those furloughed.

 (Reporting by Makini Brice, David Morgan, Amanda Becker,
Yasmeen Abutaleb, Lawrence Hurley, David Shepardson and Susan
Heavey in Washington; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh, Richard Cowan
and Peter Cooney)
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