Policy Alert: Federal Government Likely to Shut Down October 1st

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In order to avoid a government shutdown at the beginning of October 1st, Congress would need to approve, and the President would have to sign, legislation funding for the 2024 fiscal year by midnight on September 30.

At the time of this alert, The House of Representatives passed only one of the 12 annual appropriations bills needed to fund the government. With little chance of all appropriations bills passing individually in the House and Senate before October 1st, the only way to prevent a government shutdown would be through a continuing resolution (CR) to temporarily fund the government until legislation providing full-year funding could be enacted.

However, given the fact that the House has not come close to reaching an agreement on a CR at this point and Senate efforts to pass their own CR also look unlikely to pass, preventing a shutdown through either means also seems unlikely.

If a shutdown occurs, every federal department will be affected, with only essential employees being able to continue to work (without pay) and all other employees furloughed. Social Security as well as Medicare and Medicaid benefits and payments are not affected by the appropriations process and would continue during a shutdown. However, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack stated that funding for programs like WIC and SNAP could be cut within days of a shutdown because they lack sufficient contingency funding to operate longer.

The White House provides a list of every agency’s contingency plans in case funding runs out. These contingency plans outline how the agency will handle the shut down.

Earlier this month, NAFOA released an alert detailing how a potential federal shutdown could impact Indian Country. Since then, many federal agencies have released more specific plans in case of a lapse in appropriations funding.

Agencies’ shutdown plans that impact Indian Country:

  • The Indian Health Service (IHS) received advance appropriations in the Fiscal Year 2023 meaning that this program will still be funded even during a shutdown, with the exception of a few programs including contract support costs, 105(l) lease payments and facilities construction.
  • Both the TSA and Air Traffic Controllers will be required to work (without pay).  But training for new air traffic controllers will be paused during this time.
  • The Small Business Administration will most likely continue to provide services to Native American owned small businesses given their plan in the event of a lapse in appropriations.
  • According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development “Public housing authorities (PHAs), Indian tribes, and tribally-designated housing entities (TDHEs) are not part of the Federal Government and, therefore, would not be required to close during a government shutdown.”
  • Veteran medical care through the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) would continue and 97% of VA employees would be fully funded or required to work during a shutdown
  • The Department of the Interior has not released their plan at this time. But tribes should expect most Bureau of Indian Affairs programs to shutdown unless they are deemed essential.
  • In The Department of the Treasury “All Critical Infrastructure Protection (CIP) functions will continue to operate; as well as all operations and offices funded by non-appropriated funds, including the Office of Recovery Programs (ORP)”
    • The Office of Tribal and Native Affairs will be furloughed

While the longest government shutdown lasted 35 days, it is not clear how long the potential shutdown will last if appropriations run out. However, the longer the shutdown lasts the wider the effects will be felt throughout the country and particularly in Indian Country. NAFOA will continue to update tribal leaders during this time.

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