With less than a week left on the December 21st deadline to reach a spending deal and avoid another government shutdown, tensions are high in Washington D.C. On Tuesday, President Trump stated he would refuse to sign a spending bill that did not contain a $5 billion allocation for a border wall. It is questionable, however, whether such a bill would pass in the House or Senate. Thus, it is possible we will see the third shutdown of certain government agencies in this presidential term.
As background, Congress previously approved, and President Trump signed into law, five spending bills providing funding for about 75 percent of the federal government, including defense, education, labor, health and human services, the legislative branch, energy and water, military construction, and veterans affairs. There are still seven other spending bills that need legislative agreement, including those that provide funding for agriculture, the Food & Drug Administration, commerce, justice, science, interior and environment, state and foreign operations, Homeland Security, financial services, general government, transportation, and housing and urban development. Thus, certain agencies (such as the EEOC) are still at risk of shutdown and according to a fact sheet released by the Senate Appropriations Committee staff, more than 420,000 essential government workers would be expected to work without pay if a partial shutdown occurs.
For the healthcare industry, while a spending bill covering the Department of Health and Human Services was approved in September 2018, spending for other government agencies and departments that affect the healthcare industry have not. For example, the Food and Drug Administration would stop pharmaceutical testing; Drug Enforcement Administration agents would have to continue working as essential employees, but would have to wait until after the shutdown to receive a paycheck; and most of the National Science Foundation would close down. More information regarding the impact on the healthcare can be found in the Senate Appropriations Committee staff fact sheet.