The current partial government shutdown is now the longest in modern history, and as it enters its 28th day, its impacts are increasing. This is a brief update on the situation, what lawmakers have done, and how this all might be resolved.
The shutdown has already affected infrastructure projects. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) delayed releasing funding for the Federal-Aid Highway Program, and as a result, Oklahoma delayed bids for some new projects. While FHWA released additional funding shortly after these reports surfaced, there is still a good deal of uncertainty for state transportation agencies that are trying to plan out their projects.
In addition to the consequences the shutdown is having on construction and infrastructure, there are also concerns about the effect it may have on the economy more broadly. The White House’s Council of Economic Advisers has revised their estimates and found that the shutdown is having a larger impact on the economy than they initially anticipated. Other economists have expressed concerns that a prolonged shutdown could push the economy toward a recession. This is not to say that the shutdown as it stands now will cause a recession, but that when combined with other factors, a protracted shutdown could certainly have a negative impact.
The shutdown is also taking Congress’ time and attention away from other priorities, including infrastructure. The longer the shutdown remains unresolved, the longer it will take for Congress to move on to other issues.
Our elected political representatives – both congressional and executive – remain dug in to their positions. Trump has insisted that $5.7 billion for border wall funding be included in any spending legislation and many Congressional Republicans have stood with him on this request. Congressional Democrats have remained united against Trump’s demand.
It’s not clear how the impasse will end. Negotiations between Congressional leadership and the President are essentially non-existent. There was a bipartisan group of Senators that was trying to find an agreement to temporarily reopen the government so that border security could be considered in Congress, but these efforts failed. This week, the House again passed legislation to temporarily fund and reopen the government, but the Senate refuses to take up this legislation.
It seems likely that the shutdown will only end when it has a significant impact on Americans, with the most likely candidate being related to something like air travel delays or cancellations. TSA agents continue to be responsible for conducting airport security, even though they had their first missed paycheck last Friday the 11th. Some agents have begun to call out because they are unable to afford transportation or childcare while they are required to work without pay. The more disruptions the shutdown causes, the more Americans will feel its effects, and Congress and the White House could really feel pressure to make a deal.
We will continue to keep you updated on the shutdown and any effects we are seeing on our industry.