Trucking and safety programs spared in looming government shutdown

By David Tanner, Land Line associate editor | Monday, September 30, 2013

A partial shutdown of government programs loomed Monday as Congress remained at a budget impasse. Federal agencies that oversee trucking, highways and road safety would be spared in the event of a shutdown – at least for a while.

The U.S. Department of Transportation issued an update to employees on Friday, Sept. 27, in advance of government employee furloughs that could occur Tuesday, the first day of the new fiscal year in D.C.

A furlough is defined as a temporary unpaid leave.

The U.S. House and Senate were still not seeing eye-to-eye on what programs to fund as of Monday. A big point of contention is the Affordable Care Act, which takes effect Tuesday. House-approved budget strips Affordable Care Act funding, while the Senate version does not strip the funding.

According to the DOT employee memo, the Federal Highway Administration and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration would not see any employee reductions or furloughs in the event of a shutdown. The Federal Highway Administration employs 2,914 while the FMCSA employs 1,102.

The DOT says those departments will run as planned without reductions – but that could change if a shutdown were to last longer than the short-term.

“Once available liquidating cash is exhausted to support continuing operations, an agency shutdown may need to be implemented,” according to the FMCSA. “For a brief funding lapse, this is not anticipated.”

While the FHWA and FMCSA are not immediately affected, other DOT agencies would not fare so well in the event of a shutdown.

The Federal Aviation Administration, for example, would furlough 15,500 of its 46,000 employees while the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration would furlough 333 its 597 employees.

The Federal Transit Administration and Federal Railroad Administration would see furloughs immediately, according to the DOT. So would tourism departments, park services and civilian workers for the Department of Defense according to other government memos that circulated over the weekend.

See related story:
What happens to trucking if the federal government shuts down?

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