National Association of Counties
Washington, D.C.

 Shutdown’s impact affects dozens of county programs

By Marilina Sanz


Photos courtesy of National Parks Conservation Association

(Clockwise) Yellowstone Park, the house where Lincoln died, and Lincoln Memorial.

With the congressional shutdown of the federal government now on the record, here are some details from the federal agency plans about what to expect in programs that are important to counties.  

Department of Agriculture  

  • Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) inspectors will remain on the job, although FSIS support functions, such as administrative appeals and labeling, could be impacted.
  • Conservation Reserve Program and the Wetlands Reserve Program will stop enrollment.
  • Foreign Agricultural Service’s Foreign Market Development Program and the Market Access Program could stop.
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits will continue through October. There is also a $2 billion fund available to reimburse states for SNAP administrative costs.
  • Child Nutrition programs such as school lunch and breakfast will also continue through October. There is a contingency fund but it might not cover all of October.
  • There will be no new funding for the Women, Infants and Children Supplemental Feeding Programs and the Commodity Assistance Programs. 

Department of Education 

  • School districts that receive funding for disadvantaged students under Title I and II of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) are not affected because the school year is funded from FY13 appropriations.
  • The Career and Technical Education Grant funding will also continue because the program is funded from FY13 appropriations.
  • Pell Grant and Direct Student Loans obligations and payments will continue. 

Environmental Protection Agency  

  • Most of the 17,000 employees are furloughed. 
  • EPA programs that involve state and local partners, such as the Leaking Underground Storage Tank (LUST) and Superfund programs will continue. 

Department of Health and Human Services  

  • State Medicaid programs should not be disrupted since the federal match is distributed prospectively on a quarterly basis. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) administrative functions, like processing state waiver applications will be halted.
  • Implementation of the Affordable Care Act should largely proceed because mandatory funding was included in the act itself.
  • States will not receive quarterly payments for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Block Grant, but will be able to use carryover funds from FY13.
  • Foster Care IV-E and Child Support operations will continue.
  • There will be no new funds for Head Start and no quarterly fund distributions for the Social Services Block Grant, Child Welfare, Child Care and Refugee programs, except that some essential activities under the Unaccompanied Alien Children program will continue.
  • The Administration for Community Living will not have new funds for the senior nutrition programs. 

Department of Homeland Security 

  • Emergency operations under the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) will continue.
  • Non-emergency FEMA disaster grants will not have new funding.
  • State and local grants will not have new funding.
  • Border enforcement will continue. 

Department of Housing and Urban Development  

  • Federal Housing Administration (FHA) will be able to endorse single-family loans and FHA staff will be available to underwrite and approve loans.
  • HUD will continue to disburse payments to cities, counties and states for CDBG, HOME funds and other block grant funds in cases that have been appropriated and authorized under a grant agreement.
  • Disaster Recovery Assistance Programs will be funded through multi-year appropriations.
  • Essential housing and emergency services for homeless persons will continue.
  • There will be no processing of Sustainable Communities grants.
  • Additional payments to Public Housing Authorities (PHA) will stop. PHAs could still issue vouchers during a shutdown. However, HUD will be unable to provide additional funds.
  • Nearly all of the Fair Housing agency housing activities will cease.  

Department of the Interior 

  • All areas of the National Park and National Wildlife Refuge systems will be closed and public access will be restricted.
  • The Bureau of Land Management will terminate all non-emergency activities on public lands.
  • Only those activities needed to respond to emergency situations will be conducted by the Office of Surface Mining.
  • The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement will continue to ensure the safety of drilling and production operations and issue drilling and other offshore permits, however renewable activities and five-year plan work will be terminated.
  • A total of 7,707 personnel are exempt from being furloughed in order to protect life and property, including law enforcement, wildland fire, emergency response and security, animal caretakers, maintenance and other personnel who will be focused on the custodial care of lands and facilities, and protection of life and property. 

Department of Justice 

  • State Criminal Alien Assistance Program reimbursement claims will not be processed.
  • There will be no new funding for grant programs such as Byrne JAG, Juvenile Justice, the Office of Violence Against Women and Community Policing, but they can continue operating with carryover funds from FY13.
  • Training for state and local officers will be discontinued during the shutdown. 

Department of Labor  

  • Unemployment insurance operations will function except for administrative costs reimbursements.
  • Workforce Investment Act adults, dislocated workers and youth grants that have already been obligated can continue to be drawn down. Any of those to be issued after Oct. 1 will not be available for draw down until the government reopened. Technical assistance will be limited.
  • Disaster National Emergency Grants will be accepted. 

Department of Transportation 

  • Federal highway programs are not affected because they are funded through the Highway Trust Fund.
  • Air traffic controllers will stay on the job.
  • Most of the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) will be furloughed, which will affect new grant applications.
  • The FTA has exempted individuals working on Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts from the furloughs.  

Department of the Treasury 

  • Fiscal Service will maintain payments, collections, and daily cash management and processing of essential authority-appropriation transactions based on applicable statutes. This includes resources to support disbursement of interest on the debt, and disbursements of Social Security and other federal benefits. 
  • Internal Revenue Service Office of Tax Exempt and Government Entities will be limited to five  employees to ensure statute protection during the shutdown period.