HomeWashington Letter2019 ▶ Partial Government Shutdown Heads into Fifth Week with No Resolution in Sight
Partial Government Shutdown Heads into Fifth Week with No Resolution in Sight

The partial federal government shutdown continues into its fifth week as of this weekend. No resolution is yet in sight, as Congress and President Trump have failed to come to an agreement on border wall funding and the finalization of 2019 spending bills. The House of Representatives passed several bills this week that would open individual departments including the Department of the Interior, which would reopen the EPA and the Agriculture Department, including the FDA, but the Senate leadership has refused to consider the bills following the President’s veto threats. Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has stated that the Senate will not consider a government spending measure until the President indicates his support for legislation.

The partial government shutdown began on Dec. 22, 2018 when funding for nine government departments overseeing, among other agencies, the EPA, FDA, Indian Health Service, Housing, U.S. Agency for International Development, and Homeland Security ran out. Most of the staff of these agencies are on unpaid furlough, while some staff deemed “essential employees” are working without pay. The NIH, CDC and most health agencies, apart from the FDA, are unaffected by the shutdown because the health spending bill enacted in late October 2018 guaranteed their FY2019 budgets. The EPA has suspended inspections of chemical factories, power plants and water treatment operations. The shutdown threatens to significantly impact the Indian Health Service as tribal governments are now [AP1] cutting some services to ensure that health clinics on Indian reservations remain open.

The ATS joined over 280 national organizations this week in signing letters to both the President and Congress, describing the impacts on food safety, public health, and nutrition programs at the FDA, EPA, Indian Health Service, and Agriculture Departments. The letter points out that the shutdown is putting “the health and safety of the nation’s residents at risk,” and urges Congress and the President to reopen the federal government as soon as possible.

Last Reviewed: January 18, 2019