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Partial U.S. Government Shutdown in Effect

As previously reported, the budget authorisation process for the U.S. federal government is divided into 12 appropriations bills, of which only five – covering the departments of Defense, Health and Human Services, Labor, Education and Veterans Affairs – have been passed for the fiscal year that began on 1 October 2018. Funding for all other agencies had been covered by short-term “continuing resolutions,” but with the expiration of the latest such measure on 21 December at midnight there is no longer any appropriated funding for the departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Homeland Security, State, Treasury and Transportation, among other agencies.  Congress and President Trump remain at an impasse, as Trump continued to tweet through Christmas Day that he would not sign any appropriations measures that did not include funding for a wall on the border with Mexico.

However, since employees designated as essential are required to work, varying percentages of employees of the affected departments are continuing to report for duty. The current shutdown is not negatively affecting imports into the United States because U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s essential border inspection functions are being maintained while less time-critical elements – such as work on new computer functionality or the issuance of binding rulings by the Office of Regulations and Rulings – will not be carried out until the shutdown ends.

Since Congress is currently out of session, if an agreement is reached between congressional leadership and President Trump it will take at least another 24 hours for rank-and-file legislators to return to Washington to vote on an approved package. Both furloughed and essential federal employees are expected to receive back pay retroactively after the shutdown ends.

Content provided by Picture: HKTDC Research
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