Senators Negotiate End to Federal Government Shutdown

After failing last week to reach an agreement fund the federal government for FY18, the Senate is voting this afternoon to temporarily extend federal funding under a fourth continuing resolution (CR) through February 8 and to authorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) through 2023. Within hours of Senate passage, the CR is expected to be approved by the House before heading to the White House for the President’s signature. When enacted, the CR officially ends the government shutdown that has been in effect since midnight on January 19. It also gives lawmakers and the White House more time to negotiate an agreement on lifting mandatory caps on discretionary spending, a fix for young undocumented immigrants enrolled in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, and disaster relief funds.

Below is a summary of how a government shutdown would have impacted operations at HUD, USDA, the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH), and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and would affect disaster relief efforts.

Impact on HUD Operations

During a government shutdown, approximately 96% of HUD’s 7,797 staff would be furloughed; just 289 employees are currently classified as “excepted” from the shutdown and would continue working in order to perform duties for programs also “excepted” from the shutdown. The programs, or functions of programs, that have been deemed “excepted” from the shutdown would continue to operate. These include housing and emergency services for people experiencing homelessness or living with HIV/AIDs and the distribution of disaster aid and HUD block grants “where the failure to address issues result in a threat to safety of life and protection of property.”

Local public housing agencies (PHAs) are not federal government entities and thus do not shut down. But PHAs receive significant federal funding and their hours and capacities may be impacted by a shutdown. A HUD contingency plan from 2017 posted on its website states that, depending on the length of the shutdown, some PHAs may not be able to maintain normal operations. HUD recommends that local PHAs be contacted for information as to their operating levels.

Public housing and Housing Choice Voucher funds already obligated by HUD to PHAs in the Line of Credit Control System (LoCCS), HUD’s primary grant disbursement system, or the HUD Central Accounting Program System (HUDCAPS) would be available for PHAs to drawdown. During a shutdown, HUD may be able to bring in pre-designated staff intermittently to get current payments for public housing and Housing Choice Vouchers through processing.

According to the 2017 contingency plan, HUD would not process requests for tenant protection vouchers for public housing or multifamily actions during a shutdown. HUD would make some payments under Section 8 contracts, rent supplement, Section 236, and project rental assistance contracts (PRACs) where there is budget authority available from prior appropriations or recaptures. HUD would not process any Section 8 contract renewal or waiver requests during a shutdown.

HUD homeless assistance grants, including supportive housing for veterans and housing for people with AIDS, would continue to be funded “to protect against imminent threats to the safety of human life.”  HUD would “continue to disburse CDBG, HOME funds, and other block grant funds in cases where failure to address issues result in a threat to safety of life and protection of property.” HUD would disburse CDBG, HOME, and other block grant funds that have already been appropriated, and competitive funds that have been awarded and are under grant agreement.

HUD’s contingency plan provides details on agency functions that continue or halt for additional HUD programs.

Read HUD’s 2017 contingency plan at:

Impact on USDA

Under USDA’s December 2017 contingency plan, nearly 98% of Rural Development’s 4,902 staff would be furloughed by a government shutdown by the fifth day.

All Rural Development (RD) programs, including housing, would stop operations under a shutdown. The only exempted activities that would continue are those that “preserve the government’s property.” Loan and grantmaking would be suspended, as well as processing loan or rent payments.

Mandatory programs, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and school lunch and breakfast programs would continue to operate. Because the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program is funded with discretionary money, it could be affected by a shutdown. In the 2013 shutdown, USDA said it did not have legal authority to continue providing benefits under the WIC program, but it said states might have money and legal authority to fund assistance for a week or so.

Read USDA’s Rural Development 2017 contingency plan at:

Impact on U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness

All operations at USICH would be suspended during a government shutdown, according to its December 2017 contingency plan. There are no exempted activities at USICH that would be allowed to continue.

Read USICH’s contingency plan:

Impact on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac

Operations at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the “enterprises”) would not be impacted during a government shutdown because government-sponsored enterprises do not depend on the federal budgetary process for their money.

Impact on Disaster Relief

Nearly 90% of the Department of Homeland Security’s 241,000 personnel, including FEMA staff, are considered essential and would continue to perform their duties during a government shutdown. A FEMA spokesperson explained, “ongoing response to recent, as well as any future disasters, will continue because this work is funded by the Disaster Relief Fund (DRF), which is not related to other appropriations.”

HUD’s involvement with disaster response would largely continue during a shutdown. The department’s Office of Field Management would continue to implement active FEMA Mission Assignments (MA), as well as on-going response to possible disasters.

HUD’s Office of Management would exempt employees “who are necessary to address emergency situations where the failure to perform those functions would result in an imminent threat to the safety of human life or the protection of property.” While HUD’s Disaster Response and Recovery Teams are not currently “excepted,” these staff can be recalled should a disaster strike or a security incident occur.

HUD’s Disaster Recovery Assistance Programs would continue during a government shutdown, and Disaster Recovery funds would continue to be disbursed.

Read HUD’s 2017 contingency plan at: