WASHINGTON, D.C. — A partial government shutdown remains in effect after funding expired for roughly a quarter of the federal government when the clock struck midnight on Saturday — and it is uncertain when it will end.
Negotiations between congressional Democrats and the Trump administration over the President’s demands for a border wall have so far not yielded an agreement, making it likely that the shutdown will continue until after Christmas. It is even possible that it could still be underway when the new Congress starts in early January.
The President’s incoming acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney said Sunday that “it is very possible that the shutdown will go beyond the 28th and into the new Congress” during an interview on “Fox News Sunday.”
The Senate adjourned Saturday afternoon with no deal to re-open the government, and while there will be a pro forma Senate session on Monday, the next actual session is not scheduled until Thursday.
Lawmakers can travel home for Christmas and won’t have to worry about being called back to vote until a deal can be reached, but Republican leaders told senators that if there is no deal by Thursday, they would not have to return for that session, sources have told CNN.
There is a remote possibility that a deal could come together sooner, and in the unlikely event a deal is reached by Monday, the pro forma session could be used to pass it by unanimous consent or voice vote, something that would only require one senator to be in attendance.
House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi and Schumer have said that the new Democratic-controlled House of Representatives will pass a bill to stop the shutdown if it lasts into the new Congress.
“If President Trump and Republicans choose to continue this Trump Shutdown, the new House Democratic majority will swiftly pass legislation to re-open government in January,” the Democratic leaders said in a joint statement after the shutdown started.
The key sticking point in the spending standoff is President Donald Trump’s demand for $5 billion for a border wall. And so far, there is still no agreement to resolve the standoff and re-open the government.
Key parts of the federal government have been impacted by the shutdown, including the Department of Homeland Security, the Justice Department, the Interior Department, the State Department and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
But just because a federal department is subject to a lapse in funding, that doesn’t mean that all of its activities immediately stop.
Typically in the event of a shutdown, some federal employees deemed essential continue to work, but their pay is withheld until the shutdown is over, while other federal employees are placed on furlough, meaning they are effectively put on a leave of absence without pay. Congress can move to order that furloughed employees be paid retroactively after a shutdown is over, though that is not guaranteed.
The Transportation Security Administration will be on the job to screen passengers, and Federal Aviation Administration air traffic controllers will be directing planes.
The FAA released a statement saying that “air traffic control is fully operational and there is no impact to safety or FAA oversight for travelers.”
US Customs and Border Protection checkpoints will remain open for international travelers, and the State Department will also continue processing passports.
An estimated 800,000 federal employees may be impacted by the partial shutdown, either by having to work during it while their pay is withheld until it ends or by being furloughed.
More than 420,000 government workers are expected to work without pay in a partial shutdown, according to a fact sheet released by the Democratic staff of the Senate Appropriations Committee.
That estimate includes more than 41,000 federal law enforcement and correctional officers. In addition, more than 380,000 federal employees would be placed on furlough, according to the fact sheet.
Before adjourning on Friday, the Senate passed a bill to ensure federal employees who are furloughed get back pay. It was passed by unanimous consent, but still will need to pass the House.
Photo: Getty Images / The Washington Post