At the time of this writing, the government is open. By the time you read this, the government might be shutdown. The federal government is being funded through a continuing resolution until midnight on Friday, January 19th, and has been running on a series of continuing resolutions maintaining spending at 2017 levels since the previous fiscal year expired last September 30. Now Congress is debating the details over passing another continuing resolution to keep the government open for four more weeks before doing this all over again. At issue is how much to spend on defense and non-defense programs, reauthorization of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), granting relief for Dreamers (individuals who entered the country as minors), and whether or not to build a wall. Support and opposition during negotiations on these issues is changing often and blame for a potential shutdown is being casts across both sides of the aisle.
The most recent government shutdown took place in 2013 for nearly two weeks over a battle related to the Affordable Care Act. When the government is closed, generally government employees who cover national security, law enforcement, or public safety will stay on the job. The US postal service will remain on schedule. However, hundreds of thousands of government employees around the country who are categorized as non-essential will be furloughed. Those employees will have to go without pay for the duration of the shutdown; though after previous circumstances, they were eventually compensated once the government was up and running.
Even if Congress reaches an agreement on another continuing resolution, the threat of a shutdown can still be disruptive. In advance of the October 1, 2017 start date of FY18, Congress passed a continuing resolution through December 8th. The night before it expired, Congress passed another through December 22nd. In order to get through the holidays, another continuing resolution was passed until January 19th. Now here we are, considering options to fund the government through February 16th. Prior to each of the continuing resolutions, government agencies have had to take time to review shutdown procedures, review essential and non-essential personnel, and contractors have had to assemble shutdown teams that include legal, human resources, government affairs and finance departments, as well as senior client-facing leadership. Many local Goodwill® organizations employee individuals on government contracts to provide a broad range of commercial services. Some government agencies are already stretched thin and the Internal Revenue Service for example has had to discuss preparations while in the start of tax season and while crafting rules to implement the newly passed tax law.
As Congress continues to negotiate the budget and appropriations for FY18 and as we head in to the FY19 budget discussions, the government relations team is counting on your advocacy to keep funding for programs of importance to Goodwill and the people in your community, including job-training programs for veterans, older workers, and people with disabilities among others. Be sure to follow us on Twitter at @GoodwillCapHill and register for the GII Legislative Action Center to stay informed as these conversations progress.