Stalemate Results in Partial Government Shutdown

The U.S. Capitol on the night of Dec. 21, 2018.
The U.S. Capitol on the night of Dec. 21, 2018. (Zach Gibson/Bloomberg News)

The federal government has partially shut down after lawmakers failed to pass a spending bill because of an impasse with President Donald Trump over his demands to fund a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.

On Dec. 22 lawmakers signaled a shutdown is likely to last past Christmas as the White House and Democrats remained far apart in negotiations. "I don’t think we’ll vote on anything until after Christmas," said retiring GOP Representative Dennis Ross of Florida, a senior member of the Republican vote-counting team.

About 25% of the government will be left unfunded. On Dec. 21, the Senate rejected a House bill passed Dec. 20. The House bill, a revision of earlier legislation, funded the government through Feb. 8 and included $5.7 billion for a border wall and $7.81 billion in disaster funds.


The shutdown means that several federal agencies will shutter, leaving thousands of people to work without pay. The departments that will close include: Transportation, Treasury, Agriculture, Homeland Security, Interior, State, Housing and Urban Development, Commerce and Justice.

Federal employees deemed “essential” personnel will have to work without pay, including 53,000 Transportation Security Administration staff.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which is part of DOT, will remain operational. FMCSA chief Ray Martinez told Transport Topics that, because of the way the agency is funded, it will not shut down.

“Speaking specifically for FMCSA, we are not affected by a shutdown. Our personnel report for duty regardless of whether there’s a shutdown or not,” Martinez said. “The public should know that.”

Funding the border wall was a bone of contention during the unsuccessful appropriations process. Earlier legislation, a continuing resolution advanced by the Senate Dec. 19, funded the government through early February but did not include money for the border wall. President Trump balked at the continuing resolution, saying he would not sign it until border wall funds were included.

The short-term funding fix that Trump rejected would have prevented a provision on electronic logging devices pertaining to livestock haulers from being enacted. A provision in the fiscal 2019 transportation funding bills in the House and Senate would deny funding for the enforcement of ELDs for such haulers, essentially exempting them from the ELD mandate.

Any legislation that had not been enacted prior to the start of the next Congressional session would be rendered invalid. The new session starts Jan. 3.

Contributing: Eleanor Lamb of Transport Topics; Bloomberg News