The government shut down at midnight Friday (Jan. 19) as Republicans and Democrats failed to come to an agreement on a bill to keep funding the government. The FCC said Friday that if the government shut down, the commission will not, at least through Friday, Jan. 26.
Asked what the FCC would do in case of an extended shutdown, Brian Hart, director of the FCC's Office of Media Relations, had said earlier in the day: “In the event of a partial government shutdown, because of available funding, the Federal Communications Commission plans to remain open and pay staff at least through the close of business on Friday, January 26.”
Hart had no comment on what would happen beyond that first week, though the FCC did submit a shutdown plan in December at OMB's request.
During the October 2013, three-week, government shutdown, the FCC shuttered its web site and had to suspend its filing deadlines and suspend its merger-review shot clocks. Commissioners and some essential personnel still came to work, however.
A senior White House official said that a number of agencies had existing funds that could keep them open and paying staff, and that the Trump Administration had encouraged them to do so to minimize the impact of the shut down on the public and federal workers. The official also signaled that the previous Admiinstration during the 2013 shutdown had appeared to want to exacerbate the impact of that shutdown for political purposes.
President Donald Trump said in a statement that the shutdown was on the Democrats and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (NY), while Schumer said it was entirely on President Trump. Schumer called it a "Trump shutdown" several times on the Senate floor, while Press Secretary Sarah Sanders released the following statement: "
"Senate Democrats own the Schumer Shutdown. Tonight, they put politics above our national security, military families, vulnerable children, and our country’s ability to serve all Americans. We will not negotiate the status of unlawful immigrants while Democrats hold our lawful citizens hostage over their reckless demands. This is the behavior of obstructionist losers, not legislators. When Democrats start paying our armed forces and first responders we will reopen negotiations on immigration reform. During this politically manufactured Schumer Shutdown, the President and his Administration will fight for and protect the American people."
The White House also sent out photos Friday evening of the President in the oval offie and outside White House (in a white hat (the good guys?), billing it as the President at work durind the "Democrats [cq] government shutdown." a further attempt to to the impasse brand on a donkey rather than an elephant.
If the shutdown extends beyond Jan. 26, the FCC commissioners and 227 essential employees will remain on the job, while 1,265 employees will be furloughed.
Among the things that won't happen, according to the FCC plan: "Consumer complaint and inquiry phone lines can not be answered; consumer protection and local competition enforcement must cease; licensing services, including broadcast, wireless, and wireline, must cease; management of radio spectrum and the creation of new opportunities for competitive technologies and services for the American public must be suspended; and equipment authorizations, including those bringing new electronic devices to American consumers, can not be provided."
“Congress and the administration have only themselves to blame for failing to keep the federal government open," said American Federation of Government Employees National President J. David Cox Sr. "This shutdown is a direct result of lawmakers continuing to punt the ball instead of having the courage to make the tough decisions that we elected them to do."
“Failing to fund the government even for a day has real-world consequences," said Cox. "The 2013 shutdown lasted 16 days, cost American taxpayers $24 billion, and caused valuable work to grind to a halt. Hundreds of cancer patients were prevented from enrolling in NIH clinical trials, 6,300 children were denied access to Head Start programs for up to 9 days, 1,200 EPA site inspections were cancelled, and 1,400 OSHA inspections to prevent workplace fatalities and injuries were stopped. These are just a few examples."